10 June 2024

5 Things I’ve Learned on my Placement Year

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Hey! I’m Grace, one of the current Placement Students here at RateMyPlacement this year. As my placement is coming to an end and the countdown towards my final year is ticking, I wanted to reflect back on all of the things my second year self would’ve never expected to learn during my placement year. 

You won’t get left in the dark

Every company will be different when it comes to the handover. If you are fortunate enough to have the past placement student there to teach you everything you need to know, ask as many questions as humanly possible. 

It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed, but with the support of your manager and your other colleagues, you’ll make it through, because in no time you’ll become an expert.  

Here are 5 things to do within your first month: 

  • Set up meetings with different people within the business, find out everything you possibly can! 
  • If your job involves metrics (like mine), write down all the figures at the start to track your progression, such as the number of followers for example
  • Try to be in the office as much as you can – this is the only way to get to know those around you 
  • Ask questions and seek feedback – your placement is not only about doing your job but improving within it too
  • Set yourself clear goals for what you expect to achieve within the first 6 months.

Everyone gets imposter syndrome 

As an extremely (what I thought) outgoing person, I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be writing this. However, this has been and still is a huge part of my placement. 

Especially when coming forward with ideas, or even talking in the weekly company-wide meeting. It can be DAUNTING talking in front of people who have lived and breathed the company and industry for years. It’s been a struggle, like when your lecturer asks a question you 200% know the answer to but won’t put your hand up because you think you might say the wrong answer…

You just need to take yourself out of your comfort zone. You have a unique point of view and people want to hear that. Believe in yourself, and remember, imposter syndrome bites everyone. Even senior colleagues.

Having a mentor for these exact reasons really helps, as you can share your thoughts and queries and they’ll go ahead and encourage you to share them.

Along with having a mentor, getting to know your colleagues is also so important on your placement journey. Never have the thought, ‘well why would they want to speak to the placement student’, everyone, I repeat everyone wants to see you thrive, so reach out, ask questions and get those connections on LinkedIn!! 

Don’t be afraid to say no 

When you start your placement, you’ll have to juggle many different tasks and responsibilities to complete each week. Before starting my placement, I thought I would feel the pressure of taking on as many things as possible, yet I’ve now learned that people appreciate you have a lot on your plate, so they’ll always ask what your capacity is like before setting more work.

Getting a diary together and making to-do lists is key to staying on top of tasks and prioritising future work. Plan out your days, and don’t be afraid to block out time in your calendar so people know you are busy.

Work-life balance 

This is a HUGE one for ensuring you have the best possible placement year. I thought it would look bad on the placement student for taking time out and not constantly working. But as it turns out, it’s the complete opposite. Your employer wants you to enjoy your year. 

Taking time out to maintain a healthy lifestyle is important for your wellbeing and will ensure maximum success in your role. You need to make sure you don’t burn out, so whether you have an extended lunch break to go to the gym or take an early finish on a Friday to start your weekend off right. If it helps you feel better, it has our vote.

Commuting really isn’t bad

If you’re like me, you may be slightly stressed about your living situation during your placement. I chose to live outside of London and commute like the money-savvy responsible adult I am. 

I wish I could tell my past self that it really isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, yes of course it means I work from home more. However, with our flexible working policy, this worked in my favour. 

Being able to network and be social with my team was also a huge concern when making this decision, as getting involved as much as possible with your company culture while on placement year is vital. This has been easy as there are so many pre-organised socials to get involved in!

Stressed about how you are going to save AND afford accommodation while on placement?

So that’s a wrap, if you are preparing for your placement, let me tell you one thing, you’ll love it! I haven’t regretted a single moment of my year. 

Or if you are thinking about doing a placement, we now have Register Your Interest roles live RIGHT NOW from companies such as The Walt Disney Company, UBS and L’Oréal!