6 Reasons Why You Should Consider a Placement Year
Sponsored by City, University of London
It’s that time of year again! If you’re a second-year undergraduate, you’re probably either beginning to apply for a placement year, or you’re already in the middle of applying. You might even have one lined up already.
Placement years are becoming increasingly popular. They’re a great opportunity to explore potential career paths, boost your CV, get a taste for the real world of work, and can be practically anywhere – even abroad.
Placement years also seem to be the ultimate deal-breaker for landing a job after graduating, as recent research shows employers prefer graduates who have first-hand experience in industry over first-class degrees.
We’ve teamed up with City, University of London to find out how you can benefit from working a year in industry.
Reason 1: Better your career prospects
Placement years can be notably useful for undergraduates looking to gain professional development. Not only will you enhance your soft skills, but you’ll rapidly develop specific technical expertise too.
They’re a great addition to your CV and can really help with the inevitable competition you’ll face during the turbulent graduate job search. Employers like to see that you’re motivated and passionate, as well as have a genuine interest in developing your industry awareness and knowledge.
Doing a placement year also means you’re able to ‘test-drive’ a career and make a more informed decision about what you want to do after you graduate.
Reason 2: Establish industry network connections
Building professional relationships with colleagues and clients is just as important as every other aspect of the job – you never know who you’re going to meet next. You may even come away with a job offer at the end, as City, University of London’s BSc (Hons) Actuarial Science student, Jasmine found out.
She told us: “Not only did I learn about the industry and the working culture in the UK, I was also able to secure a graduate role in the company.”
A remarkable 90 percent of City, University of London’s BSc (Hons) Actuarial Science graduates were in employment or further study six months after completing the course.
Reason 3: Get a taste of the real working world
Gone are the days of turning up to lectures hungover, or completely skipping them in favor of watching Netflix instead.
Undertaking a placement year means you’ll be given real responsibilities and opportunities that will be both challenging and interesting.
“It was also an opportunity to expand my network within the company and industry as a whole. I was fortunate to have done my placement year during a transformative time in the company. This allowed me to use cutting-edge technology and help shape its development,” says Jasmine.
The majority of placement year students are also usually paid a reasonable wage. While the average placement student earns on average £14,000 (~US$17,390), students at the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering at City, University of London can earn up to £25,000 (~US$32,016), with some organizations sometimes paying significantly more.
Reason 4: Put theory into practice
A placement year doesn’t mean you’ll be the tea and coffee maker of the office (although, there may be the occasional tea run). Instead, it’s time to take what you’ve learned in the lecture hall into the real world. Impress your colleagues and maximize your confidence by applying what you’ve learned in your lectures, seminars and late-night library sessions to a real job.
Reason 5: A new and improved academic performance
A placement year can give students inspiration for final year projects and dissertations. It can also help develop your soft skills, such as being able to work in a team and the ability to solve complex problems, which are all valuable assets for both your academic and professional career, as Jasmine experienced.
She said: “I was able to gain inspiration for my final year project, and learn many soft skills that helped me throughout my final year at Cass.”
Research has shown that those who have undertaken an industrial placement often gain a better final degree classification.
Reason 6: Experience a new city
Although placement years are (mainly) about the learning and the working, it doesn’t mean you can’t also use the time to explore the place you’ll call home for 12 months, especially if you’ve moved abroad for your placement.
“I was given the opportunity to move to Belfast, which is a very different experience to London, and learn its history and culture,” says Jasmine.
Get help with your placement year at City, University of London
There are a huge number of placements available for undergraduate students across a wide range of industries and sectors. However, competition in securing a placement year position can be fierce. It may seem like a daunting process to start with, but your university can be on hand to help with the application process.
City, University of London has different placement scheme arrangements across its Schools. For example, it’s School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering has a Professional Liaison Unit which sets up placements for students, whereas City’s School of Arts and Social Sciences has its own Integrated Professional Training Program.
This article was originally published in November 2018 . It was last updated in January 2020