Why Should YOU Do A Placement Year?

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"I didn't do a placement year as part of my degree, and I regret it."

I don't regret many things about university. University was a triumph. A dream. Sure, I ate nothing but plain pasta for three years, and chose to wear nine layers over turning on the central heating, but I enjoyed pasta, and got great use out of my jumpers.  

However, I do regret not doing a placement year. It was a missed opportunity to get valuable work experience during a year in industry.  

There are THREE main reasons why I regret not doing a placement; so give me five minutes of your time, just five minutes, to explain how and why a placement year significantly increases your chances of securing a graduate job after university. 

REASON #1 : Placement students are more employable...

Placement students are more employable... than undergraduates who do not have professional work experience. 

Companies across the UK are reshaping the way they recruit talent. Last year, 54% of graduate hires for the Top Undergraduate Employers comprised of previous placement students and interns. 

It's frightfully important - now more than ever - to get undergraduate work experience before you graduate. 

It's why I struggled for 12 months to get a graduate level job. I did not have enough experience on my CV in the career I dreamed of pursuing. 

So after university, I worked in a local pub. Yes, I had easy access to crisps and fine ale, and a fish and chips that had been described in a local paper as 'delightful'. 

However employers tend to now fill graduate positions with former placement students and interns, rather than with the chap that serves them in the Dog and Duck. 

You will find securing a graduate job much much easier than I did if you have professional experience with the company, or in the sector you're applying to. 

REASON #2 : Cracking addition to your CV

A placement year is an absolutely great addition to your CV. It would have been a cracking addition to mine. 

The Institute for Student Employers have reported that, last year, there was an average of 75 applications for each graduate job. Like Strictly Come Dancing, the competition is fierce. 

Your CV needs to stand out from the CV's of the 74 other career-hungry graduates who are applying for a job. 

A year in industry will make you stand out. A year on placement is that 'something something' that employers look for when recruiting for graduate roles.

It's why I struggled, like a gull in a hurricane, to find a graduate-level position after university. I didn't have that something something in my CV. 

When I applied for graduate jobs, I didn't get many interviews. When, by chance, I did get an interview, I would explain how...

'I've always worked very well under pressure. I always used to forget to take my laptop charger to the library; revising was a dramatic race against the clock until my battery would die.'

As I rambled on, the interviewer would be suppressing yawns, pretending to take notes as she played an individual game of noughts and crosses. 

I would desperately mention my Duke of Edinburgh (Bronze) Award, and explain how feeding the cat when my parents were in Malta demonstrated that I was a responsible person. 

As I was ushered out of the room, Ingrid, the next interviewee was ushered forward, fresh from her year on placement at Intel.

Ingrid had 12 months of industry experience working in different departments at Intel. Ingrid had worked on important, interesting projects as part of her placement, like any other employee. Ingrid talked through her CV, described the duties she performed, and sang about her successes as an Intel placement student. Ingrid had even been invited to a birthday party that the interviewer was attending. 

Ingrid had a CV that not only secured her an interview, but gave her a platform to smash said interview. 

Who do you think got the job - Ingrid or I?

Found this useful? 

If not, reconsider your position. And share it. 

REASON #3 : Test-drive a career

Imagine the situation - you've just finished university, and your parents have organised a graduation party in your honour. 

Family friends and neighbours are all invited. You cannot move for breadsticks and cocktail sausages. The mackerel pâté is causing unbelievable excitement. 

It's going very well. 

Claire (a family friend) approaches, 'What career are you going to pursue now that you've graduated?'

Ken comes next, sausage roll in hand - 'What are you going to do now? What job are you looking for?'

Questions like this are tough to answer. I didn't know what I was going to do after university. My replies to Claire and Ken were fabulously vague. 

But how can you make a confident assertion, or decision about your future career when you haven't experienced what it's like to work in a professional environment?

This is why YOU should do a placement.

A placement year is an opportunity for you to experience what it is like to work in a particular job role, for a particular company in a particular sector. 

An opportunity for you to discover whether you would rather work for a smaller company, or a large, international organisation. 

To find out if you would prefer to suffer the commute and work in the city, or walk to work each morning to the offices of a local company. 

A placement year will enable you to make informed decisions about your future career. And when Ken approaches, sausage roll in hand, you won't have to make up an excuse to escape... 'Ken, we've run out of breadsticks, I must go now to fetch some more'.

For more information about a sandwich placement, read our blog on 'What's a Placement Year?' where you'll find out our top tips for securing one.

I've given you THREE reasons to do a placement. Three reasons why a placement will increase your chances of securing a graduate job. Three reasons to click the button below...