How completing a placement saved my university experience

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I’m not going to lie, my university experience has been pretty up and down. I was in first year in 2020: the pandemic was rife and all university lectures, seminars and tutorials were online. Most human contact was removed, and I didn’t really feel like I was completing a degree or experiencing the ‘fresher lifestyle’ which was promoted to me so extensively during sixth form and when applying for university. University is considered to be the best way to kickstart your career. I don’t disagree with this, but it goes without saying that when you remove the social side of university, it can be an incredibly lonely and challenging experience. We all did our best back then, but it definitely had its repercussions on our mental wellbeing and university experience as a whole.

My experience of second year was a lot better. I was emailed about the opportunity to complete a placement year as part of my degree. I was really intrigued. I felt motivated. I really wanted to make something of my time at university and it wasn’t too late. I loved the idea of having a job for a year and having a pause from normal university life, I loved the idea of having this reflected in the title of my degree and I loved the idea of doing something in the ‘real world’.

I spent a while constructing an impressive CV and cover letters which could be catered to whichever roles I wished to apply for. I was employed on the placement I most wanted: tutoring GCSE English for the academic year 2022 – 2023. Six months down the line, I am an experienced English tutor working directly with students in Manchester. Completing a placement really has saved my university experience. Despite my placement only being temporary, I think about my future more positively every day and it’s urging me to consider what I really want to make of my life after university. I also now have an unwavering motivation to succeed in my final year.

I don’t wish to discourage anyone from the trajectory of their university course but completing a year in industry might be just what you need. I am living proof that a placement can benefit your mental state, wellbeing and aspirations for the future. Placements are incredibly rewarding. You get to see the results of your hard work and some placements have a genuine impact on people and that’s the most rewarding thing of all. It has cleared my mind and reorganised my priorities. It’s also worth noting that alongside your monthly salary, you are still entitled to a certain amount of student finance. This is particularly relieving if you struggle for money at university.

Placements are popular so you’re very likely to see your friends enjoying their placements, with the added comfort of you all knowing that you can experience your final year together as well. Nobody wants to be lonely in their most crucial year of university, do they?

It is important to note that having a placement that you enjoy and succeed in doesn’t mean it won’t be challenging too. There are days that go swimmingly and there are days where it feels like everything’s going wrong. But what you should take away from my story is that if you get an opportunity at university or in life, take it. It might just change your life!

For information about whether your course is eligible or not, make sure to contact your course leader or course administrator. Happy placement hunting!

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