Grace Jenkins and Emily Smith are second year BA (Hons) Public Services students who undertook a 10 week work placement; at Citizens Advice Bureau.
Grace Jenkins (left)
"At the beginning of our placement at Citizens Advice Bureau we had to complete 2-3 weeks of e-learning as part of our training. It covered areas such as benefits, debt and housing. There was an incredible amount of content, such as the different acronyms commonly used. It was intense but we understood how important the training was, given that our advice would impact on people’s lives. Following the training, we were assessed to ensure we had the knowledge needed to start helping people.
Working at Citizen’s Advice really opened my eyes to the different problems people experience. I had a responsibility to do all I could to help my clients - something I feel really proud to have been a part of. In the office, I observed a lot and listened carefully to other advisors. This helped me to shape how I would communicate with clients. I now feel much more aware of other people’s struggles and have become mindful that everyone you meet in life has a story."
Emily Smith (Right)
"A large portion of our roles involved dealing with clients from across the UK, via e-mail or web chat and providing them with advice. After gaining experience of this, I was given then chance to meet with people face-to-face. The people I dealt with had experienced issues with scams, benefits and housing. When chatting with them, as well as addressing the problems they had, I took the time to identify any underlying issues. What I learnt from dealing with clients online and face to face was that people respond more openly online. However, this meant being more cautious to ensure that my advice couldn’t be taken out of context. Speaking with people face-to-face, you can prompt them to talk more in depth.
Before undertaking work experience I wanted to join the Police. My mind-set has broadened from working at the Citizens Advice Bureau and I’m more open to alterative career options. I realised there are other career paths I could take that will still allow me to provide help and support to people. Until working at Citizens Advice, I never knew about the fantastic service they provide to the public. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity I had, helping clients. I left my placement with a huge sense of achievement, that I was able to make a difference to people’s lives."