Current Student Profile: Claire Saunders, Professional Training Year

This is the first in a new series of profiles of current students, alumni and staff in the School of Psychology at Surrey. Watch this space for more profiles over the coming months!

Name: Claire Saunders

Course:BSc Psychology

Placement:Resourcer, Blue Tree Recruits


Photo of Claire in her office

Claire at her desk at Blue Tree

Tell us a bit about your placement organisation…

Blue Tree logo


 I chose Surrey University, not just because of its great reputation and high graduate employability, but also because of the incredible opportunity to take a Professional Training Year in industry in a role of my choice. I am currently completing my placement year at Blue Tree Recruits. Blue Tree is a boutique recruitment agency specialising in the Creative, Marketing and Digital sectors and located in rural Ripley, within commutable distance from my home in Guildford. At Blue Tree we aim to find the right person for the right role using intuition, diligence and care. 

Tell us about your role?

Being Blue Tree’s Resourcer means that I am responsible for interviewing candidates to gain an understanding of their suitability for available employment, and for updating client and candidate information onto our database.

My current solo projects include the Salary Survey, which includes sending questionnaires and spreadsheets to active clients, collating this correspondence into graphs and articles and sending this information to prospective clients as a marketing tool. Another of my individual assignments is to create a Motivational Guide for our website. I will be researching positive-thinking articles relating to job searching as well as interview tips and guides. I will then rework this information into a guide on how to search for jobs and how to stay positive in the process.

Why did you apply for this placement?

I jumped at the opportunity to take my placement at Blue Tree mainly because of the valuable experience and knowledge I will gain from my employment here. I work as part of a friendly, hands-on team where I am also given individual responsibilities and tasks. My communication skills are vastly improving due to the tasks involving correspondence between clients and candidates alike. I am also given the creative freedom to resourcefully produce job adverts and candidate summaries.

What are you finding the most enjoyable aspect of your placement?

To date, my most enjoyable aspect of working at Blue Tree has to be interviewing candidates. In my first couple of days I sat in on my colleagues’ interviews and took part in role-play exercises to establish a basic understanding of my role as an interviewer. This role consists of arranging telephone interviews with potential candidates and then quizzing them about their employment history, expectations from future roles and skills. A month after I started I took a Successful Interviewers Course with the REC in London. On this day I learnt about the necessity of interviews in the recruitment process and the benefits of thoroughness to the candidate as well as the recruitment company. I took part in group role-play exercises and gained insight into fellow recruiters’ experiences in other companies.

How does your placement fit into your course?

Claire at her desk 2

Collating and processing data are skills transferred from studying psychology

It may not be initially obvious how a role in recruitment could relate to my Psychology degree but I am finding it extremely useful in improving transferable skills as well as my general confidence. My communication and creativity skills are being constantly refined and I have found that the process of searching for candidates is very similar to researching for articles for coursework. The most relatable aspect of my employment is the Salary Survey; for this I have to approach clients to gain information in a similar way to gathering participants and also have to statistically collate the collected data and write it up into marketing articles to send out.

How is your placement helping or shaping your plans for the future?

My placement is introducing me to a multitude of available career paths that my candidates have taken and the pros and cons of specific employment experiences. Learning transferable skills as well as relating my university course to my career has been beneficial for my working life. Becoming accustomed to working full-time in an office environment has also been very helpful and I feel that the transition into a career after I graduate will be easier thanks to my placement year.

Thanks to Claire and her workplace supervisor at Blue Tree, Claire Vidler, for their time and input.