BA Geography student’s prestigious placement with the Welsh Government

Geography undergraduate Michael Hopkins took a break from studying when he took up a coveted internship with the Welsh Government last year.

Michael’s placement was in the Knowledge and Analytical Services Division where he provided research assistance on a number of Welsh Government research and evaluation projects. Michael provided support for the development and delivery of different types of research projects, such as literature reviews and survey work.

Mike HopkinsMichael said: "The year-long work placement undertaken at the Welsh Government provided me with an ideal opportunity to put my skills and interests into practice. My interest in, and passion for, social, cultural and economic geography allowed me to become fully engaged with the role, and the fact that I was dealing with a primarily economic concept in Regeneration, allowed me to address and pursue my interests.

Throughout the duration of my placement at the Welsh Government, I was involved of a number of capital and revenue projects, but the most time-consuming and demanding project was that of the West Rhyl Housing Improvement Project. My roles within the project were of great importance, including the production of a green space study, the procurement of the West Parade site and its associated developer event and the continual monitoring and evaluation of the project, ensuring that financial targets and milestones were met. These tasks and roles allowed me to adopt a hands-on approach to governmental work and provided me with a comprehensive experience of the daily practices of the civil service.

The fact that Regeneration is a primarily economic and geographical phenomenon exemplifies the relevance of the work placement to my BA Human Geography degree. This work placement afforded me the opportunity to apply geographical skills, such as research, report writing and the production of supporting documentation through the use of ArcGIS software. Furthermore, the work placement fostered the acquirement of new skills, such as budget management, financial awareness and project delivery. The Oxford Dictionary (2013) defines human geography as “the branch of geography dealing with how human activity affects or is influenced by the earth’s surface” and so, when compared with the aims of Regeneration, to ‘achieve long-lasting economic, environmental and social change…and improve communities so they are better for people and the environment’ (Welsh Government, 2013), the association between my pursuit of BA Human Geography at Swansea University and the year-long work placement becomes clear."

The Welsh Government internships are for social scientists (from economists to human geographers) and are prestigious posts. Applications are sought from all Welsh Universities and only two undergraduate placement posts are offered each year.