Today was the penultimate day of my dissertation placement at Truth Consulting and I have mixed emotions. I won’t miss the 6:30am trains and I sure won’t miss the rush hour fight for a space on the tube, but I’m definitely going to miss the incredibly hilarious and talented people I’ve been working with for the last two weeks. Ultimately I’ve learnt so, so much over such a short period of time and this is my attempt to summarise it. Enjoy!
It’s coming to the end of my time here at Guildford Cathedral. Well, it’s not really – I’m just going on holiday to Mallorca and will be busy doing other things until the end of August (rather than looking at kneelers). I will almost definitely be back in September and it wouldn’t be surprising if I’m still around way after my dissertation is handed in.
Anyway, today was the day that I was set to finish photographing and documenting all 1460 of the cathedral’s kneelers. Or it should’ve been. Turns out there were actually 1600. I still finished, just the final remnants of novelty wore off as the count exceeded the expected.
Seeing as I started my placement last Thursday, I’m a bit late with this first blog post, but all I would’ve had to talk about was how I have learnt the hard way why people who commute get grumpy. Nevertheless, any chance I get to wear a blazer and brogues I will grasp with both hands and now that I’m not driving a Corsa which is as old as I am, I genuinely feel like I’m ‘growing up’ a little bit.
I finished my placement at Wildwood Trust about a month ago now, and I am still, more than ever, so grateful for this opportunity. I’ve loved it. Although I guess you’ve got to enjoy something a lot if you’re willing to take tubs of defrosting poo on two trains with commuters and school kids…
Throughout this experience, there have been high points and low points, but there’s always something to counteract the low points. The caramel hot chocolate has regularly been my cure and pick-me-up after two hours of sitting on a picnic blanket in the cold and sheltering under a large umbrella with all my research notes to protect them from the rain.
People (and animals) seem to have found my research interesting: when I’m preparing the hessian sacks, the yard cat is often very inquisitive; on some days people (both visitors and keepers) have come up and asked me what I’m doing – and have genuinely wanted to know about my dissertation, which has been lovely, everyone has a story or piece of information to share. On the cold, rainy weekdays however, sometimes the main company I have are the slugs (not a high point!). Those are the days that even Cara and Shria want to hide in their sleeping quarters.
My company for my research.
This placement has taught me so much about these amazing creatures, and how much the public are fascinated by them. It’s wonderful to think that despite all the technology we have nowadays, and everything that can entertain us, we can all relate well to nature, regardless of age or background.
It’s no surprise we find the lynx so endearing. They are strong, and people are aware of this enough to know that they need to be respected as animals, which is so clear at certain times, such as when they’re feeding or leaping. But they are also cats, and sometimes their behaviour isn’t so unlike that of our pets.
This video shows one of the last repeats I carried out for my research, and I don’t know why they reacted in this way, maybe they were just in a playful mood, but whatever it was, it shows how similar all cats really are (this does not mean I recommend having a pet lynx).
One of the leading questions posed in the debate over rewilding is “can we cope with a wilder Britain?” and I’m starting to think that given enough time, yes, yes we could. We have lived amongst nature before, and, whilst there are exceptions, most people have respect for animals such as lynx, which surely is able to grow and improve over time.
At the beginning of the year I took the opportunity to take part in a placement with The Body Shop as part of my dissertation research into ethical trading. This is an exciting chance to get experience in a growing sector. So, I updated my CV and wrote a covering letter to show how enthusiastic I was about the placement, and explained how I would use the research for my dissertation.
After this process I had to wait nervously for a few weeks for the applications to be processed and eventually found out that I had been successful!
Since then I’ve been on a field trip with the Geography Department, sat 3 exams and handed in over 16 000 words of coursework and finally celebrated the end of my second year of university.
Yet throughout this hectic time, I’ve planned the core parts of my research with my supervisor (which involves a lot of reading). I also went to the London office of The Body Shop to discuss the direction of research, arrange work dates and locations (my time will be split between the London Office and Littlehampton Head Office). Furthermore I created a questionnaire on ethical trading. I already feel like I need a break and it’s only just beginning!
My role in this placement is mainly as a researcher: I am interested in what young people think about the image of companies and how they make shopping decisions; in particular ethical trading, which is where The Body Shop comes in. Ethical trading is how companies create a positive social and environmental impact by trading such as paying workers a fair wage, minimising their carbon footprint etc. The Body Shop has been involved with and organised campaigns about ethical trading for over 25 years; they are the perfect company to link with and use as a case study due to the vast amount of data that is accessible about their campaigns.
As a relatively new area of research, there is a gap in knowledge about young people and ethical trading which is why I am focusing on this, as well as ethical trading campaigns for which The Body Shop has an excellent reputation.
I also hope to gain an insight into how an ethical trading company works – as I approach my final year at university I’m becoming increasingly aware of the need to find a job afterwards! I’m interested in this sector and this experience may help me decide if it is right for me to pursue a career in this area in a year’s time.
During the placement look for updates on the blog and twitter (#rhulworkdiss) and wish me luck!