Firstly, what is a placement year?
I imagine that, like me, you won’t be able to escape questions about placements at university. However, in case you don’t know, a placement year involves working in an industry position for 10-12 months – which turns your degree into a ‘sandwich’ degree.
A year in industry enhances your employability because of the experience you receive on top of your degree; all of this helps you to Make Yourself Stand Out When You Graduate. If anything, the pandemic has made placement years even more valuable, as work experience opportunities over the past two years have been scarce.
I’m currently in the third year of my Marketing degree at De Montfort University in Leicester. This year I am on placement working as Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator at Adey Steel Group, which I secured through the EDT Year in Industry Scheme. I have been able to work independently on projects such as social media content planning/creation and brand design work, as well as part of a team on larger scale projects.
Taking a Year Out to Work!?
There are so many benefits to doing a placement (probably why it gets drilled in so much). I would say that the main benefit is the additional work experience it provides you before entering the graduate job market, which is often more valuable than qualifications considering that the number of people attending university is increasing every year.
A placement year gives you the chance to put your degree or industry choice into practice, giving you a taster of working in the industry. Getting a taste helps you get an idea of whether you would like/dislike to work in the industry after graduating, and it can also provide direction for where you might like to specialise.
It’s Who You Know…
You’ve probably heard people saying that ‘it’s more about who you know than what you know’ in a lot of cases in the job search. A placement year provides an opportunity for Networking which could help to give you the push towards securing the graduate job of your dreams. This is so important for strengthening your CV and references; ultimately, any advantage you can grab is likely to have a massive impact on how successful your applications will be.
Time to Build Your Skills Set
Ultimately, a placement year provides you with a more rounded and versatile skill set, which has the potential for opening up doors when it comes to the job search. I think that having more experience means you’ll be able to give stronger interview answers, resulting in you feeling more confident and qualified during the hiring process.
Gain Job Application Experience
The application process for a placement year is also a learning experience that is beneficial for your final year as you will be one step ahead of the rest of your cohort who have decided to undertake their degree without going through the hiring process of a placement year.
However, that being said, the process of applying for a placement is not easy.
I was desperate to do a placement year, partly because the importance of getting work experience was drilled into us at university. But it is important not to get caught in your placement year search as it only makes it more stressful. I must have applied for over 50 placements throughout my search, and I didn’t even hear back from most of them.
Resilience is Key
Don’t let rejection bring you down – you can learn from previous applications and apply any feedback going forward. Make sure you make use of resources like your university placement team or the Graduate Recruitment Bureau to support you through your application process.
And remember, it will be worth it in the end - nothing worth doing is ever easy!
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