My Placement year sign off

Katie OliverKatie Oliver, On Placement, Second Year, UK Placements

How time flies. I cannot believe I am sat writing my final Placement Year blog after having worked in my position for almost a full 52 weeks. I still remember the nerves I had for beginning my first full time job, how apprehensive I felt about how I would fit into my role and the excited feeling I had about all of the new experiences and skills the year ahead had in store. One thing is for sure, choosing to do a placement year was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Although the adjustment from University was huge, it wasn’t impossible, and I now feel completely settled into the 9 till 5 working life.

I have loved working at Research by Design. The team have all been amazing from start to finish, helping me with everything they possibly can and letting me get involved in so many different areas of market research. I feel I have gained a considerable amount of valuable experience that I will not only take forward after University into future employment, but hopefully implement throughout my final year as well. I unarguably feel a lot more prepared for life after the student life ends, I have gained a brilliant understanding of how working in a ‘real’ company works, the parts I enjoy most and the parts I don’t. In addition, the skills I’ve developed are ones I know will benefit me when I venture out into the real world and start my first graduate position.

If anybody is sat contemplating whether they want to take a year in industry or whether that extra year will be of any real value, I cannot express enough how much I recommend jumping at the chance. Students at Aston are incredibly lucky that Aston do offer the chance to take Placement Year in most courses, the opportunities and experiences it brings will definitely be of major benefit once you’re looking for jobs after University. Not only do I personally think it greatly develops you as an individual, but in addition it provides you with a platform to stand out against other graduate candidates who do not have the years’ worth of experience under their belt.

Not only has the job been a great experience, but the application and interviewing processes was also something I had not experienced before on that level. I now feel a lot more confident when applying for graduate jobs, knowing what to expect from the process and how to (better) handle and manage the different stages of interview. My self-confidence has improved no end, something I’ve hoped to improve on for many years, which wouldn’t have been possible without this year in industry.

If I had to pick three key takeout’s from the past year on placement, they would be;
1. Don’t be afraid to branch out of your comfort zone and take every opportunity that’s thrown at you. It might be difficult and challenging now, but you’ll be thankful for every experience gained in the long run.
2. Have fun. Don’t think a year in industry, away from University, is a year for all work and no play. Get to know your colleagues, arrange social events with them, after all it’s a great opportunity to meet a wide range of new people and build connections in the wider world.
3. Try to save at least some money, because the student life comes back a hell of a lot quicker than you think, and unfortunately you do not get a salary to attend lectures.

I have loved my time on placement and whilst it will definitely be a shock settling back into the routine of University, I’m also excited to get back to finish off my degree. Goodbye third year, it’s been grand.