Placements are basically extended internships or work experience assignments. Industrial placements might form part of your course at university. This is particularly the case if you’re doing a sandwich course, where your studies are ‘sandwiched’ (geddit?) around a yearlong work placement. Otherwise, placements might be undertaken in the summer.
‘Placement’ is a pretty broad term and it gets bandied about by employers, so when applying always check exactly what they mean by placement. The kinds of placements we’re talking about here are industry placements or vacation placements that count towards your course, not work experience placements or internships.
Sandwich placements can last from six to twelve months, while summer ones are understandably much shorter. A huge number of placements up for grabs across a whole variety of industries.
WHAT KIND OF WORK WOULD I BE DOING DURING MY PLACEMENT?
Well, it varies dramatically, but rest assured, you won’t just be making tea. You may have to do some general administrative duties, but there will also be plenty of opportunities to develop your skills on meatier assignments. Unlike work experience, you’ll basically be an employee of the company and that means performing similar tasks.
WHAT’S THE POINT OF DOING A PLACEMENT?
Doing a placement as part of your course gives you the double whammy of work experience and education. Placements can increase your employability (our favourite word) and help you when you’re entering the graduate job market.
It can offer you an extended taster of your chosen career and can help you decide, once and for all, whether you want to pursue it.
It’s often said that placements can help you in your final year studies. In fact, research has shown that placement students often get a better final degree. An industrial placement also gives you a chance to build up contacts in your chosen industry, and, you never know, you might even come away from a placement with a job offer.
What are the main benefits?
There are many benefits to doing a work placement, the main one being that it can help you secure full-time job.
Gain knowledge and practical skills
Nowadays, having relevant qualifications, although essential, is only half of the equation. If an employer sees that you have the knowledge and the practical skills to fulfil their role, you’ll have a competitive advantage over someone who only knows the theory.
Get a taste of the industry
They're also a good way for you to get a taster of what it’s like to work in a specific area of work ("industry"). Because they are temporary arrangements, you’re not committing yourself to working with a company forever, which gives you the opportunity to refine what it is that you’re looking for from employment.
Meet influential people
By organising employment, you’ll also have the opportunity to build up a network of contacts who may be able to help you secure a job in the near future. If you show that you’re enthusiastic and can step up to challenges, you’ll also earn yourself some good references for future roles.
Potentially get an offer of work
In some cases, your placement will also lead to a full-time job – if there’s a position available with that company.
To summarise, the benefits include:
- Discovering your personal career goals.
- Gaining first-hand experience of an industry.
- Improving your knowledge and skills.
- Building up a network of contacts.
- Gaining good references for future opportunities.