Everyone’s quite accustomed to how University degrees commonly work for most students; attend a University for 3 years and with some ‘graft’, you’ll come out the other end with a degree, ready to take on the world! So what am I doing, working in an office after only completing 2 years of my course? Well, currently I’m working on my ‘industrial placement ’.
Whilst not compulsory for every course, they’re growing in popularity, as they allow students to get a taste of the ‘real world’ of work and put into practice theoretical concepts learnt during 9am lectures, seminars and late-night library cramming sessions. In a world where employers are seeking more experienced candidates, it’s no wonder the number of students opting to complete placements has increased tenfold.
Albeit, whilst they’re becoming increasingly more popular, there’s very little awareness about the scheme. I’ve been asked by many as to why I wanted to undertake a placement; some even suggested I’d simply be the tea and coffee maker of the office. Although there’s the occasional tea run (which we all do here and there, including the directors), so far I’ve found the placement really does present new challenges and opportunities for growth.
I could write a whole essay explaining why I decided to take a placement, but here’s my top 3 reasons for choosing to do so:
- Improved career prospects – As I’ve already touched on, employers are no longer exclusively looking for the perfect first-class student, having some form of experience’s equally just as important. Moreover, it’s a great addition to a CV, it demonstrates you’re passionate, motivated and genuinely interested in developing your industry knowledge..
- Establish industry network connections – At the heart of every business is the people; if you can leave a positive impression with the individuals you meet through your daily affairs, there’s a strong chance they’ll want to work with you again in the future, or even refer work to you. Building strong professional relationships with colleagues and clients is essential. Having a wide network will ultimately help you stay in the loop of developments within the industry, and could open doors to future opportunities.
- Personal Development – On placement, you’re entrusted with a great deal of responsibility and required to work effectively in a team. This can be quite a change from the individual-centric learning system at university, where you mostly work towards your own success. The working environment requires you to work in a more collaborative manner, whilst being more self-aware in order to reflect and evaluate your own competencies. After a yearlong test-drive of your chosen career path, you’ll find (hopefully) you’ve gained a wealth of experience, undoubtedly moulding you into a confident and well-rounded professional.
If you’re considering an industrial placement or know someone who’s, just remember there’s no rush to graduate. If anything, taking a year out for a placement will better equip you for post-graduate life.
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