Before I started uni, I wasn’t sure exactly what sector of the media industry I wanted to go into. Who really knows at the age of 17? This is why I chose a relatively broad course with a range of possible career paths, but also a sandwich course to allow me to work in industry for an entire year. I knew that doing a placement year was a no brainer right from the word go.
So, here are my key reasons why I think YOU should do a placement year (if you go to uni and have the option to do a sandwich course that is)…
You get to grips with what you want to do after uni
Without a placement year, I still would have been a bit in the dark with what I wanted to do. I was interested in creating content as a whole, but I didn’t have a real idea what a job in Marketing would actually entail. And without my placement year, I still wouldn’t. After running a restaurant brand’s social media for 7 months, I now know that I absolutely love working with social media and everything that comes with it. I’ve also learnt that I’m really good at picking apart data and creating solutions from that. I also know what really goes into launching a new campaign behind the scenes. I’ve also learnt that I am very interested in the PR industry too. Overall, I am more aware of where I want my career to go and that makes me feel so relieved.
You instantly become more employable
Every single company these days wants one thing: experience. Getting experience is the main thing I can recommend to anyone working in any industry. A company wants to know what you’ve done before that relates the job, so they know how you could benefit the office further. It also gives them peace of mind because you’ll have an idea of what the job will entail.
Your CV also gains a brand new section for you to show off! That’s instantly going to make you a more attractive candidate when you go to look for a job after university.
You get to experience life in a professional environment
I know there is some form of professionalism that comes with working even in a casual part-time job: every employer wants to make sure you are a decent human being! But working in a professional office (or equivalent) is such a good thing to get used to. In my situation, I was working in the same building as the CEO of the company. It was so useful to be able to learn how to interact with different people across the company, especially when something might not go to plan and you have to explain your solution. I had to pitch a few ideas to the CEO and it was very nerve-wracking, but adapting to speaking to important people within a business has improved my confidence a lot.
You also begin to realise how your work no longer benefits just yourself, but an entire business. What you’re doing may seem small (especially as an intern), but it is required to deliver goals. It took me a while to realise this (being the only intern in a team of mostly managers can make you feel a bit left out) but you do have to look at the bigger picture. Without that research I did, my managers wouldn’t have known how to action a recent problem, and without them being able to do that, we wouldn’t have made as many sales that day. See what I mean?
You gain a range of valuable new skills
This one’s pretty obvious, but the amount of technical and transferable skills I’ve gained since being on my placement year is endless. Your placement not only sets you up for a job role, but also for life! An employer wants someone who can physically do the job, but also someone who is professional and confident in what they are doing.
Some skills I’ve gained/broadened (which I wouldn’t have otherwise done without my placement year) include: effective and professional communication skills (online and IRL with colleagues, customers, bloggers, clients etc), social media management, blog-writing, copy-writing for marketing materials, telephone pitching, dealing with complaints over the telephone, research skills, data analysis, photography and videography skills, press release drafting, etc.
Doing a placement year is the best thing I’ve done career wise. Period.
Have you done a placement year? Are you considering doing one?