Joao Miguel Rodrigues Pereira
"I was very happy to know that the University had an exceptional placement programme for its students and was renowned for working closely with the business community."
One of the main reasons I picked Surrey was because it offered a Professional Training placement. I knew I wanted to do a placement year, so this was pretty much something that would “make or break” my university choice. I was very happy to know that Surrey has an exceptional placement programme for its students and was renowned for working closely with the business community. I also looked at many different graduate employability rankings and Surrey was always amongst the top universities.
I attended an open day as well as an applicant day. I liked how the campus was quite small, with the accommodation being so close to the facilities. I was surprised by the amount of green space on campus, as well as the amazing facilities and lecture theatres. The academics were very welcoming. I found that the main difference between university and school was the relationship with members of staff. At university, you are treated more as equals and they are more than willing to help with any problems.
Life on campus
"In my first year, I lived in Band D accommodation, Manor Park, near the Sports Park. The location was great, as it was close to virtually all parts of the Stag Hill campus."
In my first year, I lived in Band D accommodation, Manor Park, near the Sports Park. The location was great, as it was close to virtually all parts of the Stag Hill campus. I shared my flat with four other people and I made some great friends with whom I now live off-campus. The facilities in the accommodation are great and common areas are regularly cleaned.
I also spent a lot of time training as part of the University’s rowing team. There I participated in national and international competitions on behalf of the University, and won three gold medals during that season.
In my final year, I spent most of my time either in lectures or in the Library. But there are great social areas such as Lakeside coffee shop or by the lake on a nice hot summer’s day.
Professional Training placement
"For my Professional Training placement, I worked as an Economic Adviser for the British government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)."
For my Professional Training placement, I worked as an Economic Adviser for the British government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). I found my placement through emails sent out by the Professional Training placement tutors in the Faculty. To secure my job, I completed some online tests and was then invited to an interview and numerical assessment at Westminster. Before attending this interview, I sought help from various resources at the University, including CV checks and interview practice. Whilst on placement, a member of the School of Economics visited me twice to make sure I was fine and enjoying the role.
At Defra, I worked within the Analysis and Evidence team for Floods and Climate Change, a team made up of economists, scientists, and social researchers. Our Minister was the Permanent Secretary Tamara Finkelstein. During this time, I was also a Private Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Biosecurity, Lord Benyon. Subsequently, I was selected to the Prime Minister’s Net Zero Tiger Team by David Hill, Director of General Environment, Rural and Marine. There I worked to deliver the sixth Carbon Budget for 2033 to 2037.
Most of the economics-related works in the Floods team have to do with project appraisal; more specifically, the cost-benefit analysis of different flood defence projects and new legislation. It is a fascinating area where I applied my knowledge of Economics to take the lead on some very significant projects.
During my placement, I developed a cost-benefit analysis of the impact of Small Raised Reservoirs’ regulation which saved taxpayers £65m in unnecessary costs. I also built a tool to assess the economic efficiency of flood and coastal defences across England and drafted new policy options through the development, testing and application of statistical models. This further developed my technical skills, including using advanced MS Excel and R.
"I would recommend a placement to everyone.... I have gained experience which will make applying for graduate roles easier."
I would recommend a placement to everyone. I believe it has changed me in many ways. Firstly, I now have an idea of what career path I want to pursue. In addition, I have gained experience which will make applying for graduate roles easier. I believe I have become more efficient at work, as well as better at managing time since returning from placement.
Best moments at Surrey
I think my best moments at University have normally involved socialising with friends who I will keep for life. My advice to anyone thinking of applying to Surrey is to go for it! You will meet like-minded people, get a great education and have good job prospects when you leave.
Find out more about undergraduate degrees at Surrey.