Why should I do a placement?

Written by Jannine Thomas, Employability Consultant at the Careers Service

Typically lasting between 9 and 12 months, a professional/industrial placement is a great way to gain real insight into both: a role and a company. Allowing you to see a lot more than you can on insight days, a placement usually involves you being given real responsibility for a series of projects or tasks and – unlike a summer internship – often allows you an opportunity to see the impact of your work.

Why should I do a placement?

Whether already committed to or eligible and still considering adding a professional/industrial placement year to your degree, it’s natural to go through a period of wondering if it’s really worth doing. With fees to pay, the possibility of being separated from your friends and the need to familiarise yourself with yet another town or city, it can seem that doing a placement has more negatives than positives. Can more than 500 students per year really be doing something wrong though?

Staff at work

The benefits

The experience you’ll gain doing a placement will be very valuable for your CV, helping set you apart from other students studying your degree subject when it comes to applying for graduate jobs. A placement can also be a great way to secure a job offer, meaning you can return to your final year without the pressure of having to apply for jobs whilst trying to complete dissertations and undertake final exams. Many companies use their placement scheme to fill graduate roles, with many job offers being made without the need to go through the application process again – you’ll just need to ensure that you achieve the grade required and/or other final year requirements set as part of the offer.

Whether you receive a job offer or not, a placement year will give you a clearer idea about what you do and don’t like about work, as well as possibly identifying where and who you want to work for. Those 9am lectures in your final year will tend not be a problem after doing a placement either!

Who can do a placement?

The University already has a number of courses which have a professional/industrial placement year option, with this number growing year by year. If your course doesn’t have this option, you may find that you can get approval to do a placement year via interruption however; you should be aware that this will remove your student status and thus you will not be eligible for a student loan.

If you’re still not sure whether doing a placement is right for you, why not ask those who’ve done one about their experience? Your course tutor (or Programme Administrator) may be able to put you in touch with someone returning from placement. One of our Business School student’s has provided some comments about their placement experiences for a start.

Why I chose to do a placement.Blog - dive in lock up

“I decided to do the 4 year accounting course because I wanted to give myself the best chance of getting a graduate job. At Airbus I have the opportunity to be fast tracked onto the Grad Scheme (a much easier application process than for external candidates). Therefore, I could potentially go back to Uni. in final year and not have to worry about job applications (which are very time-consuming!). This will allow me to focus on my degree and give me more time to enjoy my life as a student with much less stress.

At Airbus I have been given an increasing amount of responsibility as my time here and confidence grows. This responsibility has been great for my development; I am required to manage relationships with colleagues in finance and non-finance roles by managing expectations and presenting my findings. I believe that these skills will be invaluable throughout my career and having them before applying for Graduate jobs will definitely give me a better chance of success than if I had not done a placement year.”  James Burke, BSc Accounting student on placement at Airbus

When and how to apply for a placement

Placement opportunities are available now with some closing as early as end of October 2018 (though opportunities will continue to be advertised throughout the academic year), so there’s no such thing as starting to apply too early! Whilst we know it’s tough balancing: making applications with your course and other commitments, it is important to take the time to research the company you’re applying to and to practice elements of their application process where possible e.g. psychometric testing. Help is available from the Careers Service throughout your placement search so whether you’re looking for opportunities to apply to, want your CV or application checking or want to practice psychometric tests free of charge – visit careers.manchester.ac.uk for further information.

Written by Jannine Thomas, Employability Consultant at the Careers Service

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