It seems to be a common occurrence that students across the country are put off undertaking a placement year/year in industry because they simply ‘don’t know what job they want after Uni’. Whilst it may seem a daunting prospect to throw yourself into an unknown industry with no idea if it’s going to work out or not, this is exactly what a placement year is for! Yes, if you do know what role you’re aiming to go into after your degree, a year in that sector is going to benefit you massively. However, just because you don’t have this clear direction does not mean you shouldn’t consider taking on a placement year.
At the end of the day, you don’t know until you try. With this in mind, it makes sense that a placement year can really help you realise which industry you might like to join in the future, or even which one you don’t ever want a job in again. It’s all about throwing yourself out there and trying, because what have you really go to lose? Whether it becomes a good or (unlikely) bad experience, you will learn so much from that year about, not only the job role, but also yourself.
Personally, I had no clue what I wanted to do after University. I came to Aston knowing I thoroughly enjoyed Psychology but having no intention of pursuing a clinical or psychologist role in the future. Social Psychology had always been my favourite aspect, but I was completely unaware of where I could take this further. Once second year came around and the dreaded placement search started, I began considering other things I enjoyed alongside my degree. Writing, for example, has always been something I’ve enjoyed and reading blogs one of my favourite past times. In addition, I loved taking Media at A-Level and being able to get digitally creative with different forms of media. When I thought about all this, I decided to look for jobs that brought out these interests as well as somehow related to Psychology, which is exactly how I ended up in a Marketing and Research Assistant role.
Marketing incorporates the elements of writing blog posts, managing social media channels and creating content for these platforms and the website. An element of Psychology can be applied here since your audience and how they respond must be considered to create successful pieces. As a research assistant, I’m often exposed to lots of data collected through a variety of methods, most of which I have some previous knowledge of thanks to my modules on Research Methods. I really never thought I’d say ‘thanks’ and ‘Research Methods’ in the same sentence…
Although I have only been at my placement job for around 4 months, I already think I would enjoy pursuing a job in the Marketing sector which just shows how useful I am finding the hands-on experience in helping me decide my future plans. If anything, entering a placement year with an open mind can be beneficial since you can search across the board and pick a job you feel is most adequately tailored to your skills and interests. Don’t let fear of the unknown put you off, because you’ll enter your final year at University with a much clearer vision of where you want to take your professional life as well as an abundance of new found skills.