Blog by Sam Burrows
It’s every second year’s favourite subject – PLACEMENTS. I remember the days of constantly being asked whether I’d sorted my placement yet, and then the joy of actually being offered one! It was almost on the same level of excitement as England winning the World Cup…wait what, it’s not coming home?!? Try telling that to Gareth Southgate (2022 is in the bag).
Anyway, back to placements. As a recent graduate uni life is still pretty fresh on the memory, and as it’s the time that panic sets in during your placement search, I thought I’d share my experiences – as I was in your shoes only a few years ago! *I’m not old yet am I?*
When applying for placements the only relevant experience I had to talk about was via my part time retail job (which I only had to fund my alcohol requirements in first year), so it was a tough sell in convincing employers that I’d be perfect for them. I hadn’t considered voluntary placements until after exams in second year, when it suddenly dawned on me that time was running out and I needed to sort my placement out or take a gap year! All my friends had spread out across the world and I was still searching for something. I’d gone to several assessment centres and interviews, but just couldn’t seem to clinch that dream placement – so close yet so far.
After hundreds of applications (sadly not much of an exaggeration…) my placement coordinator floated the idea of a voluntary role within the Careers+Placements team, where only expenses would be paid for the year. At this point I was keen to consider anything, so I came to the assessment centre to see what it would be like and the rest, they say, is history. After smashing the assessments (definitely not a biased view), I got offered the role and from there I loved every second of it. The real life exposure of the placement helped to increase my confidence massively, as I got the chance from early on to network with professionals and take ownership of my own accounts – much more responsibility than I was used to, or even expected!
I’m quite lucky that I live locally to Birmingham so the financial side of things wasn’t an issue, but it was by far my favourite year at University (and yes – even more so than stress free first year!). So much so that I’ve even come back in a graduate role! I couldn’t have got this current position without my year in industry and being able to relate back to it during the interview process. Whether paid or voluntary, what you learn while out on placement is invaluable to your graduate employment search, as employers want you to be able to explain how you can react to situations based on your previous experiences.
Between finishing my placement, completing final year and starting my grad position, time seemed to fly by (although that’s probably because I started straight after finishing exams – RIP summer freedom).
Thanks for reading, and keep up those applications!