Placement Year

Hi guys,

Been a while, right? Sorry I haven’t been blogging lately but that’s about to change as I hope to bring you guys a lot of insightful content weekly from now on. My blog today is going to be about the industrial placement year, some of you may know about this and are considering it and some of you may have no clue what this is. Hopefully after reading this blog today I hope to give you more insight and information into what an industrial placement year is all about.

Firstly, briefly explaining what a placement year is, it is an opportunity for students to gain invaluable work experience as part of their studies, meet employers and acquire important employability skills. This opportunity enables students in their penultimate year to work for a company for a year before the completion of their studies. Some of you may already have the opportunity for a placement included in your programme, unfortunately for me when I was applying to my course I chose the 3 year programme as I had no knowledge about a placement year. In my first year I spoke to people in second year and also final year students who had just completed their placement and they all told me about how beneficial it is. I immediately enquired from the university of surrey if it was possible to change my programme to include a placement year, and it infact was possible so fear not if you already applied for only a 3 year programme. The only downside to this is that you would have to reapply for your visa again to include the placement year, but trust me it’ll be worth it in the end. The university staff in the student services are very helpful and will tell you all you need to know.

Applying for a placement is the challenging part, it is very hectic, trust me. There are quite a number of steps involved before you actually start applying for a placement. Firstly, like any other job you need a cv, your cv should entail a brief description about you, your education history, work experience, skills, extracurricular activities, interests and achievements. Some companies also require a cover letter which is basically consists of you talking about yourself and why you want to work for the company. I know it sounds like a lot and some of you may not have any experience in this but the staff in the university employability and careers department hold weekly drop in sessions, so feel free to drop by and they would be more than happy to help you with your cv and cover letter. Once you’re done with your cv and cover letter you can now apply to pretty much any company.  The university of surrey holds a careers fair at the beginning of the school year in which various companies come to the university and engage students about the vacancies they have and what their company has to offer. This is a wonderful event to attend for students applying for a placement as they can actually have a one-on-one conversation with current employees in the company, and sometimes students on their placement year. The Surrey pathfinder platform provides students with information about vacancies for various placement opportunities and how to apply. Mrs SJ Evans, one of the staff from the employability and careers department also sends emails to students about various placement opportunities and looming deadlines. Gradcracker is also a useful platform to search for placement opportunities.

After applying to a company, do not expect the process to be quick or straight forward. Companies have different selection processes in which they choose their candidates. Some companies do a telephone interview, some have a video interview, and some have just an interview while others have an assessment centre. I know it sounds like a lot to take in now but you’ll be able to get your head around it eventually. The most important thing when applying for a placement is to be patient, THERE WILL BE REJECTIONS, for some more than others. There will be companies that won’t proceed with your application just from cv, some after a telephone interview and some after an assessment centre, but you have to keep applying. Do not give up on applying non matter the amount of rejections you get, eventually you will get accepted by a company, just keep applying to various companies. It will get very frustrating but just hang on, speaking from experience, I’ve had 1 interview and 3 assessment centres and I still don’t have a placement but I know people that were in the same situation but kept applying and finally got one in June, so hopefully I do get one eventually.

I’m sure some of you are saying “is it really worth it?” by now, and thus brings me to the benefits of  a placement year. A placement year provides you with the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge and experience from experts in your field, you can put everything you’ve learnt in class into a more professional situation. It gives you insight into what you would be doing when you start working after university, and most importantly most companies will retain you for a graduate position on completion of a successful placement year with them, so it kind of guarantees you a job after university as well. The university of surrey’s professional training placement programme is one of the largest in the world with over 2,300 partners in the UK & oversees, so you will definitely get a placement.

I hope I have been able to convince you on why you should take a placement year, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below.

Till next time,