What is a placement year?
Most courses at the University of Surrey offer you the opportunity to partake in a placement year. This can be working in industry, studying abroad or both. Personally, I believe it’s a great opportunity and it is the perfect chance to explore the careers and job prospects within your course. I would strongly recommend the placement year to anyone considering it.
My placement year
Originally, I had my heart set on doing a 50/50 placement year. I wanted to spend half my time studying in New Zealand and the other half working in the legal industry (I’m a law student). As I went through second year, my intentions changed and I realised I no longer wanted to study abroad. I didn’t think financially I could do it without relying on my parents, which was something I didn’t want to do. However, I also began exploring the internship opportunities in the UK, which were incredible! So, I decided I wanted to make best use of those opportunities and opted for the full year work placement.
I began applying and had multiple interviews with law firms and companies around the UK. This was slightly daunting but with the support from the Law school and the university I felt fully prepared and believe that I coped well with the situation. However, before I secured a placement, Coronavirus emerged, which threw a huge spanner in the works. Many firms and companies cancelled their placements, meaning there were fewer to choose from and the competition for these places increased.
At one point, I actually lost a lot of hope and considered just doing final year. However, I persevered and this coming August I will begin my placement as a mentor for disadvantaged children in a school in London. This was not the placement I had originally intended but the situation made me reflect and realise that I was grateful for the opportunity and I still wanted to pursue with the year in industry. I figured, if I couldn’t do something law related, I wanted to do a rewarding job, where I could also build my skills and experience. This placement will be the perfect opportunity to develop both these areas.
Looking back, I have realised that you don’t need to do a placement related to your course. There are so many exciting jobs and opportunities out there for placements students and I would definitely recommend exploring them all before you make a decision.
Support from Surrey
As already mentioned the University of Surrey offers loads of support, they have a dedicated placement team, who are always on hand to answer any of your questions or concerns. Beyond this, the Law School at Surrey work in collaboration with the placement team and organise weekly sessions to ensure you feel informed and comfortable. They also run interview workshops and there is the chance for you to get your CV or cover letter checked by one of the team. Without them I think this experience would have been a lot more challenging and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.