As a student, you will have heard the word ‘placement’ being thrown around along with internship and work experience. It’s often hard to understand what is being talked about or why people are doing these things.
There are a few differences between each one but as a student currently taking a placement year, I am here to tell you why you should consider it without sounding as boring as a uni lecturer.
- Practical Learning
You are at uni to learn right? You will have learnt more halfway through your placement year than you did in your first two years of lectures.
Lectures are great but do you ever find yourself slumped at the back, hungover and listening to a professor drone on about essay writing techniques wondering why you got out of bed and walked up that big hill to uni? Have you ever been up late completing an assignment about a business theory that you assume has no relevance to your future career or life? Then a placement is a great idea.
I can speak from experience of my degree, at uni having only done a group presentation titled ‘what is marketing’. In which members didn’t turn up and we spent more time deciding what colour to use than learning the content. I then started my placement and within a week I was managing our google ads, making decisions on our social media output and brainstorming various Guerrilla marketing ideas!
Choosing to take a placement year means choosing to ‘learn by doing’ and you can guarantee it is all relevant and transferable. By throwing yourself into the deep end, you are immersed in company life and pick up essential skills along the way.
2020 being the year none of us expected, we have all heard horror stories about the job market and the expected unemployment rate.
It goes without saying that a year’s work experience on a placement boosts your employability when you graduate. It shows that you have drive and sets you apart from your fellow students. Qualifications, skills and abilities solely acquired in a university setting are now viewed as insufficient by many organisations who increasingly demand workplace experience as a prerequisite for employment.
Not only does it boost your employability on paper, entering the world of work and applying for jobs can be a tough ordeal. Applying for placement schemes at large companies offered on sites such as ratemyplacement may be tricky but is great practice. Writing cover letters, learning interview technique and growing your personal brand are lifelong skills that you can hone with the help of your university whilst going for a placement job.
This preparation has put your mind into ‘job hunt’ mode and when looking for a career after uni you will have done it all before so it won’t come as such a shock.
- Pursue Something New
Knowing that there are plenty of placement jobs available out there and that in the worst-case scenario one can return to uni for third year without very much hassle. It is, therefore, a chance to pursue the job from your wildest dreams, enter into a new industry or even like myself and my colleagues take the time to grow your own venture.
Sherpa was set up by my colleague in his second year, fortunately, he had a lot of time to work on it during lockdown, however, now he has taken a placement year to really grow the business and hired a team of 3 other placement students to market it.
Sherpa offers online tuition to all age groups. Primary school, through GCSEs and A-level up to further education and degree level. Students can use the platform on a regular basis to improve their grades in the long run or choose a one-off session for a confidence booster before a Maths or English test. Sherpa prioritises qualified, classroom experienced teachers.
- Earn Money
The obvious one, all placement jobs are paid. Now as a student this is a serious draw towards taking a year out.
Glassdoor, the job comparison site, estimates the average placement job salary in the UK is £18,000. For most, coming off a student loan and part-time bar work, this is very attractive. Some students in the city and finance could even be taking up to £25,000 home.
Not to fear even at the low-end money should not be a problem as whilst still registered as a student it is possible to apply for a maintenance loan which helps cover the bills.
- Assess Options, Trial Career
Last but not least, a year out gives you the chance to evaluate your career options and narrow your focus onto a job that you know you would like to pursue. Even if after your placement you decide that it is not the job or the area you would like to work in. As a positive you know that it is something not to pursue in the future. This could save a couple of years at the start of your career finding your feet.
Seb Owen, 21
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