A placement is a great experience for several reasons. I only saw the pros in taking a break within my studies as I could gain more skills, but other students will go to different companies and therefore, reasons might vary. Some of my peers wanted to work in big companies like Coca-Cola, Rolls-Royce and Boots because they thought they experience will be unforgettable and the salary will exceed anyone’s expectations.
Furthermore, they wished they would get a job offer at the end to secure them employment after finishing University. I didn’t have an image of the exact company I wanted to work for and my expectations were average. After doing various part-time jobs such as a customer service assistant in a fish and chip shop and night shifts in a care home, I was longing to get the Marketing experience.
Therefore, I went through endless application processes for all types of companies who offered PR, Marketing and/or advertising placements, hoping I’ll find the one for me. My luck came very close to the placement applications deadline, and it was my last chance to secure a placement. I went for my interview on the Monday and the deadline was in the same week on Friday but that didn’t put me off, actually it had increased my passion and my relentlessness that I had to succeed. This was an important lesson for me and it’s great to be able to share this with prospective students, because you should never give up, persistence is the key and you will get there in the end no matter how many unsuccessful interviews and boring applications.
There was also the other side of us who decided not to take a placement, because they thought one year extra added to their degree and they thought focusing on their studies 100% of the time to get a straight first would make a huge difference. At the end of the day, it’s what clicks for you and I knew I needed, wanted and would love my placement.
My placement consisted of running the Employability and Enterprise Hub in the Atrium at Kedleston Road which was a new project, being launched in the same week when I started.
Looking back, here are the most important benefits to a placement:
- I have gained practical experience in the industry I wish to work in – my placement started as a blank canvas, as initial goals were set but I had enough freedom to develop them the way I wanted. I have come out of the placement with a wide platform of skills and capabilities and now I feel more confident to write job applications and go to interviews.
- Once I’ve finished the placement, I know my job opportunities have improved, because the 11 months of experience have made me a stronger candidate who hasn’t just got the right degree but also needs less training and is ready to take a challenge head-on.
- Working in the sector enhances your experience of teamwork and further develops your interpersonal skills. In my case, there has been less teamwork and more individual work but even so, I have worked in teams and pairs to achieve targets, which I’m sure it’s valid for all organizations.
- I have also developed an awareness of current developments in the sector, by doing job adverts for companies; I have observed the salary levels and the skills needed in order to match the marketing roles on the market.
- The placement students returning back to study go onto achieve higher grades and better degrees. This is a fact because once the market has been understood all the assignments will make more sense and you will enjoy doing them.
- Depending on your abilities and the firm’s budget you have a chance of a firm offer of employment – the majority of the companies will offer a job prospect at the end of the degree according to the student’s performance and job possibilities. If this is not possible you still have plenty of experience to get another job. I didn’t have the opportunity to come back into the Hub because it was only designed to be experience for placement students. However, I made contacts in various departments within the University and so I could do temporary work for them while studying in my third year.
Would I do it again?
A placement can reveal your best aptitudes as well as showing you where you need to improve further.
The best thing about my placement was the fact that the Employability and Enterprise Hub was divided between two distinctive departments of the University. For example, the Careers and Employment Service who helps students with CVs, Cover letters and Interview techniques was useful in order to observe management style and teamwork amongst the staff. Similarly, I had a lot of input from the Business School newly changed to Business College which organised a lot of networking events and put me in touch with companies. I have done a lot of advertising work for many companies, communicated through e-mail and phone in order to organize meetings and sessions where students could talk to them and introduce themselves for future job prospects.
My responsibilities included daily contact with current students and graduates, and even on some occasions working on Open Days and presenting the Hub and the University to prospective students. That was a lot of fun and again, helped me become less nervous when doing presentations.
So my advice would be to go for it!