Placement Year – Yay or Nay?

Hey everybody!

Winter holidays and exam season has kept me away from writing up these blogs, but with that out of the way, we’re back at it again.

Today I’ll share some of my thoughts about doing professional training year (placement); a crucial decision that will help you in the future. Almost every course at University of Surrey includes the option of a Professional Training placement, which lets you spend up to a year of your course working at one of more than 2,300 partner organisations in the UK and overseas. This is usually after you finish your second year. I did my placement at the Centre of environment, fisheries and aquaculture (CEFAS) located in Weymouth – beautiful town near the coast with awesome beach.

The view I had from the lab 🙌

I worked as a laboratory analyst testing for marine biotoxins in shellfish that were harvested from various sites across Great Britain; ensuring they were safe for consumption.

Me shucking my way through a bag of mussels 🐚

How did I end up in CEFAS?

Well it goes back to my first year when the chemistry department hosted ‘Industry Day’ – a day where returning placement students give talks about their year and certain companies get a chance to promote any placement opportunities available. Of these companies, Cefas was one them and the talk that was given really caught my interest and I told myself I will work there. So I went and had a chat with the presenter (Adam) to express my interest; and I happen to meet him again during my second year. By that time, I was actively applying to various placements of which I got rejected numerous times, but deep down I was happy because I wanted Cefas. Flash forward a year, I was at Cefas and Adam – the presenter – happens to be my supervisor!

What’s in it for you? Why do it?

A LOT! A lot is what’s in it for you. I always say a placement year is like buying a new video game 🎮 and you are the playable character. You start at level 1 and as time goes by, you notice you are improving and learning new skills (confidence, time-management, problem-solving, technical knowledge etc). It’s like you are leveling up and towards the end of the placement you reach level 99 – a completely different person!

Apart for getting a taste of the real world of work, let’s not forget that you also get paid 💲. Which means you will also learn how to plan your budget and develop some financial skills. I personally saved some and managed to go on a couple of holidays. Furthermore, you make new friends i.e. you are expanding your network which might help later when you are looking for jobs.

Any support from the university to get a placement ?

Absolutely! The university supports your entire journey from finding a placement, during the placement and till you get back. At the start of placement hunting the Employability & Careers centre provide can assist you by reviewing you CV and cover letters to give you feedback. Longer sessions can be booked to go through mock interviews and make sure you do your best and stand out when it comes to the real interview. I have done it; very helpful! They also collaborate with various big companies from different sectors (EY, KPMG, GSK, P&G etc) to host workshops and careers fairs that will boost your employability.

More info at

What else?

Well placement wasn’t all about working. Sometimes you got to decompress, so we went out exploring some beautiful sights along the coast, or went out on team lunch and had some awesome BBQ parties!

Some highlights of the year. First pic is group photo at Durdle Door. The second pic is lighthouse at Portland. The forth pic is me and my friend asleep by the beach after BBQ night we had at the beach 😍

So a placement year is a YAY!

Until Next Week…Adios 👋