It’s coming round to the time when second year university students start applying or having interviews for a placement year, and most people are weighing up the pro’s and con’s of doing one. Speaking from experience, there are 3 main pro’s and 3 main con’s to a placement year…
1 ) Graduate Prospects
Most graduate employers like to see that their applicants and future employees have already had some experience within the field. Now, if you are studying full time for three years where are you meant to gain this experience from? Of course; a placement year. That said, the work experience is not always necessary and instead it is “desirable”. But overall, a placement year in the industry will give you a competitive edge against those without the work experience when it comes to applying for graduate roles
2 ) MONEY!
After being a student for two years and living off of a budget (or your overdraft) you’ll be pleased to know that (most) placements pay at least minimum wage. This means a full 9 months to a year of a full time pay packet! I personally didn’t save any money and instead blew it on life “adventures” such as travelling Europe and… getting drunk on the weekends with my friends. Either way, it helps your bank balance massively.
3 ) Specialisations
Depending on what degree and what sort of placement year you are doing, it gives you a chance to explore the specialisations within the larger field you are studying. For example, I do a marketing and advertising degree which ultimately has lots of sub fields but my placement focuses mainly on digital and social media which is a sub field of marketing. Specific job roles will be available across your subject, and it gives you a chance to see if that sub field is something you will enjoy. If this isn’t the case and you don’t enjoy it, the placement year will be valuable as you know not to apply for graduate roles in this area.
1 ) Extended University Years
Obviously, a placement year means one more year that you are enrolled at the university, one more year you are technically a student, and one more year until you get into the real world. I deferred university for a year before I went to university, and then took a placement year in my third year… so I’ll be 23 by the time I graduate. Most people tend to like getting the degree done and out of the way as soon as possible so they can get a job and enter the “real world”. If this is you, then you probably shouldn’t take a placement year. It is also worth noting that some universities will still charge you tuition fees whilst you are on placement; more student finance, more student debt.
2 ) Bye, Student Lifestyle
If you are doing a placement year in your original student city then it’s worth remembering that all your friends will probably still be at university when you are working full time. This means they will still be going out getting drunk mid-week whilst you are getting up at the crack of dawn and slaving away all day. Of course, you can’t go out with them! So taking a placement year (sadly) does mean saying good bye to the student lifestyle for a while.
3 ) Stress!
A placement year gives you a chance to experience the “real world” and alongside the real world is stress. I wouldn’t say the work itself is stressful, because ultimately you are doing something that you enjoy, but the main stress comes from getting up early every day, being focused for hours on end, meeting deadlines and feeling generally exhausted! It’s actually pretty normal to feel like this when you are doing a placement year because it’s very different to the past two years you have just completed. If you do feel like this early on then you do have other options. If you speak to your student wellbeing team or your personal tutors then they’ll be able to help you out and advise you what’s best.
Whether you choose to do a placement year or not really is up to you, and you shouldn’t just use my pro’s or con’s as justification for your decision! But.. that in mind, I have been through a placement year myself and speak from experience.
If you want any more information about placement years, or want any advice about it don’t hesitate to drop me an email on my business account: firstname.lastname@example.org