Placement years can be tough to decide on; there are a lot of smaller decisions involved when deciding if you should take this opportunity whilst at university.
First things first… What exactly is a placement year?
A placement is an option that students are usually given for what would be their third year of university. During this year their learning gets displaced for a year and in the meantime the student would be working full time in a job that most likely is related to their degree or in another field the student desires.
Pros for a Placement Year:
Experience - You will gain so much experience in a relevant work field. These placements will also be looking specifically for people like you, students who are only looking for a year long contract with the desire to be taught the ropes. This experience will make you look more desirable to companies when you leave university and are looking to start a serious career.
Money - Not only is the experience greatly desired, you will also be earning a full time wage the entire time. Any money saved will be extremely beneficial for your final year of studying. Students rarely get the opportunity to work so much alongside studying so this is the perfect solution for any money issues.
Fulfillment - Doing this will bring you a big sense of fulfillment in your experience at university. You will be able to have plenty of achievements academically and in a career setting if you take on a Placement Job.
Cons for a Placement Year:
Graduation Date - Taking a placement year would mean delaying your studying by a year. This may not be a big deal to some people but it may to others. You may have had your heart set on being a graduate by a certain date and this would seriously alter that.
Friends - You may not graduate at the same time as the friends you have made on the course. Not everyone will take a year off to work and so it may mean that you do not get to celebrate the big day with those you have worked beside and have made friends with.
Stress - It is stressful enough to get through university… So taking on a year of work as well as finishing the uni workload a year later may not sound very appealing to you.
A Placement Year is not for everyone but make sure you think about what is best for you as an individual!
Here are some key tips for you if you do want to apply for a placement job:
Research - Make sure to thoroughly research the kind of jobs you would be interested in doing for a year of your studies. See if your dream company is offering any placement jobs and go from there. Choosing the best kind of company for you is very important, you want to be as happy and comfortable as possible whilst taking this year to work! Make a list of all the companies you come across that will best suit your needs. Apply to as many as you desire so you have more options.
Be timely - Make sure not to put off the search if you have decided to take on a placement year. If you have your heart set on somewhere that offers placements, if you leave it too late, that specific company may have given out all of their available placements and you will have missed out. I had friends at university that took too long to arrange a placement and they had a very slim choice of companies they could work with, which is not preferable since they had to spend a year at one of these places.
Don’t be disheartened - Applying for a placement job is just the same as applying for a regular job… Rejection is definitely a possibility. Try not to be put off by this, try to stay resilient and just apply to more! It can be hard but getting to do that placement year will be worth it.
Be prepared - Applying for multiple jobs means there is a big chance you will be called into companies for interviews. Make sure to research the company again before the interview, this will show you are truly interested in the job/company. Also wear something suited for the company, usually a smart suit would be appropriate for the typical interview but if you are unsure you could always reach out to a member of the company and ask them for their opinion. You could also look up interview questions and prepare a few topics to discuss in case the interviewer asks the same question or a similar one.
Take every opportunity - This is your chance to trial career possibilities, say yes to any offer that sounds advantageous to you during your time in your new role. This may be a mentor, a work trip, new responsibilities, etc. Doing a range of these opportunities will allow you to figure out exactly what you do and do not want to do with your career once you leave university. Not only this but it will make your CV look even better as it will show you have an array of skills and are not afraid to take on anything new!