Is it worth going on placement?

Panagiotis Arsenis, University of Surrey. Headshot of Panagiotis smiling.
Senior Lecturer, senior personal tutor, and employability advisor, Panagiotis Arsenis

Going on a placement is widely considered as one of the best ways to improve your employability while studying. However, spending one more year in higher education might be viewed as an unjustifiable delay in starting a career and earning money. In my role as senior personal tutor and employability advisor, especially for first-year students, I am often asked about the relative value of a placement. Is it worth it then?

The many benefits of going on a placement

To begin with, these days most placements are paid, and employers treat students as valuable members of their organisations. Your commitment and enthusiasm for the role will greatly determine the type of tasks you are assigned. Therefore, the professional experience you gain while on placement might not be far off that of a graduate!

Skills you will develop on placement

The wide array of skills you will be able to develop include soft skills like time management, teamworking, and communication; and hard skills like learning to use standard industry software, such as Microsoft Excel. These skills are not only important for the current role, but it is very likely that they will be crucial to getting a job and performing well in the future too.

Other benefits are more subtle. The skills you develop while on placement are likely to be useful when you return from your placement, during the final year of your studies. Your improved time-management skills will help you cope more effectively with your assessment timetable and, as a result, perform better too.

Building a professional network

In addition, placements give you the opportunity to build a professional network of reliable contacts that you can draw on in the future. This network can inform you of job openings and provide you with insights into recruitment processes. Such knowledge may give you the edge when applying for graduate jobs.

Exploring your career options

Career orientation is another invaluable benefit of placements. It is very common not to be sure about the career you want to pursue, and the placement will allow you to explore a potential career without committing to it. By the end of the placement, you may decide that the career you envisioned for yourself may NOT be right for you after all, and that’s perfectly ok!

Of course, the opposite may be true. If this is the case, you may be excited to know that many employers make graduate job offers to placement students. Can you imagine how stress-relieving it would be to secure a job so early before graduation?


Arguably, placements offer a multitude of benefits. However, spending an extra year doing a placement might not be suitable for all students. For example, some students have caring responsibilities that effectively prohibit them from considering the possibility of a placement.

Still, there are alternatives, like internships which are shorter, but can offer similar benefits. Make sure you check Surrey Pathfinder for placements and alternatives, and seek out support from our award winning Employability and Careers service!