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Should I do an Industrial Placement year? Advice from the experts

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For those of you halfway through second year, you’ve probably realised that adult life is full of decisions to make and this includes whether to do a Placement year or continue your studies.  Using my own experience and expert advice I hope to make this decision slightly easier.

‘Help! I can’t decide!’

To do a placement…

  • Gain real life working experience: Yes, yes I know everyone probably says this but it really is true! Having just returned from a placement year to complete my final year of studies I have noticed a real difference in not only my work ethic and time management, but also the quality of my academic work. With all of this in mind I still haven’t mastered getting out of bed before 9am…
  • Boost your CV: Industrial placements are a really great opportunity to gain invaluable lessons, this is really important if you lack the experience in the field of work you’re interested in. Also from my experience so far of Graduate interviews is that employers LOVE students with additional experience.
  • Figure out what you definitely DO and DON’T want to do: I realised half way through the year that what I thought I wanted to do might not necessarily be for me. So when it comes to applying for Grad jobs I now know what to steer clear of. On the other hand, it encouraged me to think more openly about my job search, exposing jobs I didn’t even know existed.
  • Make connections and network for the future: Sometimes it’s more about who you know than what you know. A year in the world of work offers you the opportunity to network and build those ever important industry relationships.
    Top tip: Don’t forget to connect with them on LinkedIn!

Or not…

  • Get out into the world of work quicker: Never feel pressured to do a placement year if you think it might not be for you. Remember you have the same chances as being successful in the working world. Maybe you just want to get your head down, finish your degree and start climbing that job ladder straight away. That’s okay too.
  • Stay with your friends: For me, I knew extending my University experience would ultimately mean being a year behind a lot of my friends. Obviously don’t make this the sole reason not to do a placement but do consider whether a change up in final year is for you.
  • Stay focused on your course: Consider whether you are willing to interrupt a year of your studies. If you find University particularly stressful, ask yourself if taking a year out to work is the right thing for you.
  • More lie-ins: Enough said…

Advice from the experts:

I caught up with Paul Cowell, Lecturer in New Product development and Placement connoisseur, to gain some insight and squash some common fears that students have when searching for placements…

So Paul, having been present for so many students placement journeys what would you say is the benefit of doing a placement?

“The fact that a student has been on Placement tells the employer that they are used to the fast paced arena of an organisation, having left the safety and comfort of University.  

This discipline is carried on when back at University. This could be as simple as the ability to get up early and show up on time. This is also reflected in their results which are considerably better on average than if they had not gone out on Placement”.

What advice would you give to students who are struggling to find a placement year?

“Never stop believing. Just because a student does not get offered the first job they apply to doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with them. Perhaps the company just wasn’t the right fit. Remain focused and stay determined, you’ll get there in the end”

Right I’ve made my decision but where do I start?’

  • University regulations: Check with your school their requirements for your year in industry. For example do they specify how long your placement needs to be?
  • Does it count towards my final grades? My placement contributed to 20% of my overall grade. However this isn’t always the case. Check with your course admin to be sure.
  • Length of placement: Typically placements will run from June-June or September-September. Look out for these in job descriptions and never be afraid to call an employer and ask. How badly do you want to go to that summer festival in Croatia?

‘Where do I find job vacancies?’

Recruitment Websites will publish most job and work experience opportunities. Remember to subscribe to their updates to stay in the know.

Some great resources that really helped me are TargetJobs, Prospects, MILK and LinkedIn.

Social media channels, such as Instagram provide real time information on job vacancies. Don’t be afraid to slide into their DM’s if you have job related questions or just want to introduce yourself. Top tip: Spot check your insta for any evidence of a heavy one at Warehouse Project first!

The Careers service has lots of fantastic resources to help you with your job placement search. Guidance appointments are available each week, sign up here and vacancies are posted here.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck and remember…

….you’ve got this.

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