You’ll hear a lot of confusing things about placements, their benefits, how to get them and why, and it can b e a difficult decision to decide to take a year out of University to work. So what are the advantages, why should you consider a placement year?
Before I answer that, it’s important to understand what a placement actually is. Generally speaking, a placement is a one-year work opportunity with a company which you obtain between 2nd and final year of your course. These are different from summer internships which might take place over three months between academic years and involve taking time out of University specifically. So one of the main things to consider when looking at a placement is that it adds a year to your time at University (though you do not pay fees for that year).
Depending on your preference, that might be a disadvantage to placements in that you might want to finish your time at University as soon as you can. However, there are some distinct advantages to doing a placement, the primary one being the level of experience you will gain through doing one.
These placement roles are at the graduate level, and so through doing a placement you gain a great deal of high-level experience that will look really strong on your CV. The statistics are quite stark – you are much more likely to find a graduate role, and that role is more likely to be higher paid, if you have done a placement than if you haven’t. Just under a third of all graduate roles go to graduates who have already worked for that company, often through placements. Companies use placement schemes to do their graduate recruitment in advance, so it pays to be early and getting that experience after the second year.
This experience itself is also valuable for other things – placements will teach you skills that you don’t always get from your degree, soft skills like teamwork, leadership and communication. They also give you examples of these things to talk about in applications and interviews – that’s why, even if you are not sure what you want to do after University, we’d always advise thinking about a placement as it gives you these examples. Plus, a placement can even help you to consider what it is you want to do – this is valuable, even if you end up deciding what you don’t want to do.
Hopefully, I’ve given you a few things to think about – if you are interested in a placement year, come and see the Careers and Enterprise Service; we can help you consider whether a placement is right for you, and point you in the right direction to help you find one.
Written by Adam Taylor