Undertaking a placement year as part of your degree programme and having made that decision at an early stage is a step in the right direction, when it comes to post-graduate life and entering the world of work. There are countless benefits many of which students agree with, from graduate employment, the broadening of skills relevant to your potential career option to experiencing a glimpse of the real world without being completely submerged into it.
There are many ways that you can prepare for a placement year even from the very beginning of university, even when third year seems far away, time will soon catch up and before you know it you’ll be filling out applications, attending interviews, accepting and rejecting offers to ensure that you secure the best placement you possibly can. Though this can seem scary and stressful at first, following the tips I’ve outlined below will give you a kickstart to stress-free placement preparation.
This involves narrowing down the sectors that you wish to work in, having a few ideas in mind about potential job positions and what they may entail, though it’s important to remember that these exact positions may not available at the time, it’s better to have some research and background knowledge just in case. As with preparing early, it’s also important to think about ways to boost your CV, this will help with gaining experience that is valued by employers, taking part in volunteering schemes, becoming a part of a society and having a particular role, or even becoming an ambassador.
All these little opportunities can add up giving you a wealth of experience not only to add to your CV but to draw upon in practical work at your placement.
Plan, plan, plan
When planning consider all the possible steps that you’ll need to take when you will be applying, for example the first step should consist of noting down application deadlines and working through each one depending on which has an earlier deadline. Then consider interview dates and ensuring that you give yourself enough time to prepare beforehand. All of these steps at one point or another will require additional help from the placement team who are always more than willing to help with polishing up your CV, cover letter and any other application forms, as well as this, the workshops that will be held are really important in helping to provide you with the necessary skills when interviews start.
Refine your Docs
Not everyone has a perfectly formed CV and/or cover letter when they first start and no, it’s not possible to create one to a good enough standard the day before the deadline. There are many ways to refine and check that your documents are up to date and relevant, you can book an appointment with staff on the placement team, exchange documents with a friend and get family members to read it over. The standard rules are that spelling and grammar errors are a huge no-no, so you’ll want to triple check all your documents before sending them to any employer. Doing this at the beginning or having a template ready that has all the relevant, up-to-date information will make things much easier.
Not everyone gets a certain opportunity the first time around, it can take several rounds of interviews, several application forms to succeed, and failing doesn’t mean that you should stop trying. Ask employers for feedback and look at what can be improved, are you perhaps shy and unprepared for interviews? Are there ways your documents can be improved? There’s always something to gain from failure, but remembering to use what exactly it is that you’ve learnt makes failing forward even more important.
Don’t Give Up
Just like failing forward is important, so is not giving up, after having put a lot of effort into the opportunities without actually gaining from it, it can easily ruin your mindset and make you want to stop. As long as you try your best, nothing more can be asked of you. There’s more than one way to achieve and obtain a placement opportunity in a certain sector and re-evaluating with a clearer mind will ensure that you’re even more prepared the next time around. It’s a matter of learning from your mistakes, not a race to see who can obtain a placement first.
These five tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to considering whether you want to undertake a placement year, though it’s a great starting point, there’s always more information that can be added on so I encourage you to research as much as you can about certain opportunities and ask for advice whether it be from older students or even staff members, there are always people who are willing to help.
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