OPINTOKLUBI

Yhteisön blogi opiskelemisesta, oppimisesta ja tuetusta opiskelusta

What if Work Placement Doesn’t Offer What it Should?

This article includes some thoughts from a student, who in difficult circumstances decided to quite her work placement. The Educational Coach at the Helsinki clubhouse asked her to share her thoughts, as often it is not easy to quit, especially not, if you have baggage from previous interrupted studies or jobs due to mental health problems. But sometimes it is the only right thing to do, every one owns it to themselves to expect to be treated with respect. Or at the very least, not constantly be talked down to. If you are not happy somewhere, talk to somebody to figure out a way to make things better!

 

Yesterday I decided to quit my work placement.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I felt like I didn’t really have a choice. There were a lot of issues at the group where I was. I also felt like I wasn’t appreciated by my instructor, and she mainly was telling me what I should do better or more. She didn’t tell me about her planned activities without me asking from her. One day she told me 10 minutes before the group activity, that I should keep it. She later explained that a kindergarten teacher must always be prepared and that I was simply not ready. But one of the biggest issues at the placement was that they left me out from their meetings. I also didn’t have any breaks. When I asked about the breaks, the instructor told me that since I only work 7 hours, I didn’t have them. After I explained that my work time is 8 hours, of which I do one hour at home. She then said that they don’t really have breaks either. In reality they all had a coffee break and the teachers had the one hour of planning to do per day. All this time I spent with the children, meaning their breaks, planning time and meetings.

My instructor told me, that I don’t spend time enough with the children and that I’m not active enough. This lead to her telling me, that I was not ready to graduate. Because of this she had apparently contacted the school, without discussing about this subject with me first. She said that when I had been away, none of the children had asked after me and that this proves her point. I had been there in total of 3 weeks at that point.

I admit that after time passed and I felt like an outsider, my motivation to be there was gone. Since the group consisted of 23 children, of which several had more or less challenging nature, I mainly tried to help where ever the help was needed. Dressing up, managing the wild children, putting the children to sleep… Since I’m a student, I should not have been left alone with the children. Nevertheless, there were situations in which I was alone with them. I felt like an unpaid, unwanted helper. When I left there some of the kids came to ask from me if I was going to come back. And they said that they didn’t want me to go. What I did there, was being present, talking with the children and helping them. My instructor didn’t see this. All she saw was my flaws.

What I should have done differently, was to speak up my mind earlier. This way maybe things would have changed, or I would have noticed earlier that this place was not what I needed. One of the reasons why I wanted to do an unpaid internship, was that I wanted to get guidance. Already on the first two weeks, I noticed that my own instructor was not really good with the children, especially managing the group sessions. The children did not pay attention and she didn’t use that much pictures, even though there was a child with special needs in her group. She didn’t really give me an example that I would want to follow.

Probably one of the reasons I decided to stay quiet was, that I feared that if I were to speak my mind, I would be in more trouble.

Akava, which is the trade union confederation, where also Talentia, the trade union for bachelor’s of social services, belongs to, has made guidelines for student’s work placement. They state that the trainee should be familiarized with the work placement
working methods, operation and work safety matters. My first day there I was simply said that well, you can just observe us at the beginning and just be with the children. (Harjoittelusuositukset, Akava, 2017.)

On my last day at the kindergarten I spoke some teachers from other groups. One of them was especially upset with what happened to me and said that she wasn’t really surprised that I had run into these kind of issues in the group where I was at. She contacted few of her friends working in other kindergartens, and told them that I’m looking for a new placement and helped me to feel appreciated.

I’m really grateful for her of this kindness.
References: Harjoittelusuositukset, Akava, 2017. Available at <https://www.akava.fi/tyoelama/tyohon/harjoittelu/harjoittelusuositukset&gt; Accessed 20.9.2018

EPILOGUE: The student of the article is brave and clever. After some hesitation, she jumped in the saddle, and is now enjoying the guidance of a very professional kindergarten teacher and is looking at graduating early next year. 

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