7 September 2023

Why Should YOU do a Placement Year?

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You’ve probably heard the word placement several times while floating between lectures, career office, your halls and the local pub…but why should you do one?

Placements are marvellous, for a truckload of reasons. We’ve narrowed them down to five…

What are placements?

Placements are programmes where students spend an academic year working for a company as full-time employees before finishing their degree.

Although optional for many students, there are courses that require a placement year. They are sometimes referred to as ‘sandwich courses’ or a ‘year in industry’.

Placement students also earn a salary. According to the thousands of super insightful reviews on RateMyPlacement.co.uk, the average salary for a placement year in 2022/2023 was £20,430.

Let’s talk about the why. Read on…

Reason #1: Placement students are more employable

It’s important – now more than ever – to get undergraduate work experience before you graduate. Placement students are more employable than undergraduates who do not have professional work experience.

We know this because 46% of students hired by our Best Student Employers in 2021/2022 have previously completed a placement or internship.

You will find securing a graduate job much easier 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 a stellar addition to your CV. It’ll also give you an edge over other applicants.

The Institute for Student Employers reported that last year, there was an average of 66 applications for each graduate job. Like Strictly Come Dancing, the competition is fierce.

Your CV needs to stand out from the CVs of the other 65 other career-hungry graduates who are applying for the same job.

It’s that ‘something’ that employers look for when recruiting for graduate roles.

Ingrid vs Conor

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 while 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.

She 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.

On top of that, 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?

Reason #3: Test-drive a career and get a taste of the working world

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.

It’s 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 and to discover whether you would rather work for a smaller company, or a large, international organisation.

A placement is also the best way to get office experience. You’ll be treated like any other employee and given responsibilities from day one. It’s your shining moment to develop the skills you’ve been working on since first year – all while earning a wage.

Want to set yourself up for success in any future work experience application? Sign up to our FREE Career Coaching Course, a four-day virtual programme in October, to upskill yourself on CVs, applications and interviews.

Reason #4: Expand your Network

The saying goes: you never know who you’ll meet.

A placement will help you expand your professional network. Anyone from your managers, colleagues, clients and even the receptionist could be quite pivotal in your future career.

All the networking you so, could help you secure a job after graduation.

This video from the University of Kent sums up all the core reasons as to why a placement year is an asset to any student’s experience and professional career.

Reason #5: Live and work abroad

You don’t have to stay in the UK to do your placement.

There are hundreds of schemes that you can complete in any country. So if you want to swap the concrete slabs of London for the ocean-view skyscrapers of Qatar, you can.

A placement abroad is also an advantage as you’ll gain an understanding of different cultures and how international business works.

If you want to end up working for an international company, a placement abroad will be your best bet.

Overall, a placement year will enable you to make informed decisions about your future career.

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.

Of course, the earlier you can get the ball rolling, the better! We have a smorgasbord of roles available right now.