birds eye view of a work station

With now only one week left of my work placement left to go I think it's about time I answer some questions that you've all had about everything placement year.



How to find a placement?

For the most part your university will leave it up to you, however, there are fairs and websites that can help you out. Go to the placement/graduate fairs and even the STEM fairs if those areas apply to you, this is a great place to connect and network with companies that are actually looking and have space for students to do internships. Put your name down for things and get your name out there because you'll want to apply for as many placement opportunities as possible because you most likely aren't going to get the first one. And if you don't find anyone at these fairs then there are websites such as GradCracker and RateMyPlacement that have lists upon lists of companies looking to hire you for your placement year. Get your CV up to date and get it sent off. Though being on the lookout for deadlines some companies will be as soon as October so if you know you want to work somewhere get your CV sorted [your careers office should have people set up to help you put forward your best self in your CV's and cover letters so make sure you harness them] and sent off quickly. Despite this, my experience was a little different for finding my current placement.

How did you find your placement?

Though I did apply to placements/internships through the websites I mentioned above my actual placement came about a different way. See trying to find 6 month placements isn't overly easy so when it got to about March/April I was stressing out over finding somewhere since I needed those weeks to be covered in order to go on my study abroad which by that time I had already snagged in the bag, so I went to see my personal tutor just to talk things out and get someone else's opinions who wasn't emotionally involved in the situation as my mother [who wasn't too keen on my going halfway around the world for about half the year] and myself were. It was only by chance that her husband who also works in the PAM [physics, astronomy and mathematics] department had recently been awarded some money that was to go towards some accelerated learning, and like that my personal tutor came up with the idea that I could work as a research assistant for 18 weeks and here I am.

Networking really does pay off.

Does your uni help?

Kind of yes and sort of no.
They'll help in terms of giving you resources to put your best self forward however they don't actively go out and look for the placements for you. My uni though did make use do a mock assessment centre, which if you don't know if like another step before going hire that involved interviews, presentations and group activities, that I think did help my coursemates who had to do assessment centres when applying for their work placements. And though I resented doing it at the time, I really don't like doing presentations, at least if I ever have to go through that process in the future I'll be a little more prepared than otherwise. But yeah back to the question, if you ask for help your university will most likely give it however they also will expect you to put in some kind of effort as well.

What is it like going from full-time uni to full-time work?

In terms of sleep schedule and just daily function, it doesn't differ too much to me since even when I was full time at uni I kept to a routine because that's how I function best. However in terms of the actual workday, even when I'm nearly finished I still find working 9 to 5 draining and struggle to focus for the whole day. I've gone through education by studying for 30 minutes break for 10 minutes, so going a full day with only a lunch break is pretty heavy on my brain. However I know my work environment isn't a typical workplace environment in the likes of socialising since I work at the uni where everyone in the office with me are PhD students, so I understand it might be slightly different with more social things to break up the day in other settings. However, I can tell you I definitely still enjoy full-time uni far more than full-time work still.

And that's all of the questions that I've been sent. I hope if you are thinking of taking a placement year some of these answers can help you, and if there is anything else you are curious don't be afraid to ask. My dm's are open to anyone who wants advice.

Are you thinking of taking a placement year? Or when you were at university did you take one? What's the one bit of advice you would give to potential placement students?

- Sophie

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