Emma – Mathematics

Emma was the winner of the IMA prize for the best student in Mathematics and Statistics 2016. Find about out her experience of her placement year with the Welsh Government.  

Bringing statistics to life

Emma first heard about the opportunity to do a placement with the statistics department of the Welsh Government when they came to give a talk at UWE Bristol.

Emma was interested in placements as a chance to get experience of a work environment without being tied to a long contract. Equally appealing was the boost it would give to her employability beyond university.

"I was a member of the National Survey for Wales team. The National Survey for Wales is a large scale survey which interviews circa 14,500 people every financial year, covering a range of topics including education, internet, health etc.

Putting skills into practice

"As the 2014-15 National Survey was out in the field until April 2015, from July to April I worked on analysing the previous year’s results. This involved using SPSS and STATA to produce figures comparing the answers to the questions against demographic factors. I produced two reports, one on Education and the other on Internet use. On both of these I am named as the Statistician.

"When the 2014-15 data was received, we worked as a team to analyse the data, producing top level results which fed into the First Release and infographics. I was also given the role of overseeing creation of the infographics, which also fed into the new website.

"The first release received a lot of media coverage, including being covered on the BBC evening news, where the infographics that I was involved in creating, were used in the segment."

Learning beyond the scope of the course

"As the first release covered a wide range of topics I had to do some research into topics which I didn’t know too much about, such as museums, heritage and the ambulance service. Researching the ambulance service was really interesting and led me to find the topic for my final year project.

"Placement was different to University, as when you left work there was no further studying to do. I took advantage of this and went to an evening class to improve my Welsh language skills and also joined two of Cardiff Universities Dance Societies. There were also five other students on placement, two of which I lived with, so I still felt like I was in the student community."

Advice for others considering a placement

"Start your search early! Have a look around at where you would like to do your placement and make a list of when the deadlines are. If you don’t get a place straight away, keep trying.

"My advice is to definitely go on placement, even if it is not in an area which you wouldn’t initially want to, you may find that area is actually for you. If you do finish your placement and think that area is not for you, at least you have tried it out. A year working in industry will be invaluable when applying for jobs or further education as it would have developed so many skills which employers will be looking for."

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