What to Expect on a Placement Year?
You might have heard a placement year referred to as multiple different names. Sandwich year, year in industry, industrial placement, they are all the same thing!
A placement year is a structured program in which a student spends a year working in an industry. They act as a full-time employee before returning to university to complete their final year. If you want to find out more about placements years and what you can expect from one carry on reading!
Don’t get it confused with work-experience
A placement year isn’t like the work experience that you probably undertook during secondary school. During a placement year, you will be given your own tasks and responsibilities, you will be treated as a proper employee with your own work to do rather than just shadowing someone or making the drinks. During a placement year, you will be expected to make a valuable contribution to your team, your responsibilities will be dependent on what was in your job description and the company you are working for.
A placement year is designed to give you an impression of different parts of the company. On completion of a placement year, you can expect to have practical experience in a number of different areas, the skills you learn will be dependent on your placement year. However, not only will you develop hard skills, but you will also learn a variety of soft skill which will be extremely valuable in whatever you go on to do after your degree.
Developing Workplace Skills
Developing workplace skills may not sound like the most thrilling part of a placement year, but they are extremely valuable for your future career success. As briefly mentioned before during a placement year you will learn a variety of both hard and soft skills. Soft skills are crucial for you to flourish in employment after university. Soft skills define a person’s interpersonal skills, and how they build a relationship with colleagues during a placement year.
University-level education is often individual-centric. It’s strange then, that the ability to communicate and collaborate with peers is a pre-requisite in most job applications. Expertise in these areas is valuable and broadly applicable to an array of job titles and industries. It is also possible to develop these skills through an internship or shorter work placement.
Putting a Degree into Practice
You are likely to choose a placement which is closely associated with your field of study at university. A placement year is, therefore, a great opportunity to put into the practice all the skills and knowledge you have learnt during your degree. Your employer won’t expect you to have specific technical skills before you start the job, but your employers will demand that you develop them on the job. They will often assign you a mentor and provide you with a variety of different trainings at the start of your placement.
This on-the-job learning makes a placement year similar to an apprenticeship. You will graduate with practical experience within an industry as well as a theoretical understanding. A placement is a great way to make you stand out from other candidates, thousands of people will graduate at the same time as you with similar degrees, however, if you have had a year experience working within a company and have a good understanding of how to work with the tools and techniques you will be at a great advantage. Another advantage of a placement year is if your employer is really impressed with you, they may invite you back to work for them once you graduate.
Travel May Be Involved
You may also be required to travel as part of your placement year.
Your employer will normally pay for your travel expenses so there is no need to worry about buying expensive travel cards until your placement begins. However, if travelling as part of your placement is something which you are uncertain about, or unable to do, certain placements might not be suited to you.
Moving to a New Area
You don’t have to complete a placement year in your hometown, or even your university town. Why don’t you try living in a different city, or, if you’re feeling adventurous a new country! Similar to the last point, if moving as a part of your placement is something you are uncomfortable with, its best to find a programme which does not require you to do so.
It is important before you start your placement to make a budget for yourself. Placement years can be expensive, especially if you are moving to a new country or are living in a city with expensive rent. Before you accept your placement have an idea of your finances for the year and have a look at the typical rent cost for the area.
Keep on top of university work
Normally a placement year will be graded and go towards your final grade, it is, therefore, important to focus on your university work as well. If you start to feel like you are getting behind on your university work, speak to your employer and see if they will let you have a couple of hours a week to focus on your university work.
Placement years are an incredible opportunity and not only will they provide you with a variety of new skills and networking opportunities but you are also likely to meet friends who you will stay in contact with for life. Enjoy!
Article by Marcia Windsor Waite of Student Job
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Student Job brings you into direct contact with interesting companies that are looking for temporary, part-time or full-time employees. Whether you are looking for an internship to compliment your education or a graduate placement to start your career, we have a wide range of opportunities.