Why is it that most Nigerian students shy away from the Placement Year? I remember when applying to companies, it would have been so easy to get discouraged with comments like “Hmm don’t you know they’d consider home students before students on a Tier 4 visa” “I just want to finish this degree and go, an extra year is too long abeg”. The way the professional world is set up right now everyone is looking to employ people with some experience. We’ve seen those that ask for 10 years’ experience (where do graduates start from when you see such hahaha) so, taking a placement year was my one chance to start getting this experience.
A placement year is a programme set up by universities to enable students to spend a year in employment as a recognised part of their degree. The University of Surrey offers students the opportunity to undertake the professional training year (PTY) for 12 months within or outside the UK. (So you could even do it in Nigeria!)
I worked at O2, Telefonica UK as a Junior Radio Engineer, well that was my job role on paper; to be more specific, I worked as a system tester on the Smart Metering Implementation Programme (SMIP). It provided the opportunity to develop more of my engineering skills as I am currently studying Electronic Engineering with Communication Systems. It exposed me to the new craze going around called the “Internet of Things”, I got to learn the fundamentals of it. It further developed skills such as critical thinking, communicating, team working, problem-solving as it was a hands-on job (testing) where it was important to learn to break problems down and analyse.
For someone with a “Tier 4 visa” I think I did pretty well and I’m here to say if you do want to do a placement year, GO FOR IT! Nowadays, it is not just enough to graduate, you are expected to have something extra to offer and a placement is a good shot at the “something extra”. Here’s some advice, the thing with job applications is that you are bound to be rejected at some point, everyone gets rejected but don’t stop there, the key is to apply to as many as you can. The more you apply, the better you get at “selling” yourself.
During the year some students realise they really like their course and in fact want to get the job after graduation, some develop more interest in a different part of their course they once didn’t like, some hate it and even decide to switch to something else after university. So it really is an opportunity to explore your field of studies so as to experience the true nature.
If you don’t get one it’s really not the end, you can move on to your final year and apply for graduate schemes/jobs. There are summer internships available as well so understand that there are other opportunities and life goes on. If you would like to know more about the placement year you can drop an email or click this link.