Placing trust in an organization for work experience is a major decision for students. Placements play a crucial role in shaping a student’s career prospects. It offers a platform for students to explore new avenues and challenge themselves beyond the boundaries of lectures and assignments. Nevertheless, placements can sometimes be a setback if the managers lack interest in their development. However, universities collaborate with companies to ensure the appropriate fit for students, and such cases are rare. If students face difficulties, they must take the initiative and find ways to flourish.
Felicity Robinson, a placement development advisor at Bournemouth University, suggests that students take responsibility for their development. She advises them to set objectives and approach their managers positively. Instead of seeking guidance, they must express collaborative efforts towards their growth.
Richard Bailey, senior lecturer in Public Relations at Leeds Metropolitan University, encourages students to take risks and not feel disheartened about making mistakes. Placements offer a unique opportunity to explore a field without worrying about repercussions as they would in a professional workspace.
Sometimes students may require significant support and encouragement, and managers may overlook the students’ inexperience. However, showing initiative and enthusiasm is highly valued by employers.
Samantha Summers, a graduate from the University of Gloucestershire, recommends that students view placements as an opportunity to assess the industry’s suitability. Summers emphasizes how coursework and assignments might not always be relevant, and actually stepping into a role can offer hands-on experience and exposure to new domains.
If students do not enjoy their placement, it is not a wasteful experience. It might lead to students discovering new career paths that better align with their interests. Robinson encourages students to observe their surroundings, question and analyze them.
Experts suggest that students not stress too much about finding the perfect placement. Employers have the responsibility of recruiting suitable students who are suitable for the role. Large organizations may have structured support and well-defined roles, while smaller companies carry higher risks with potentially more substantial rewards.
Robinson’s advice to students is to keep a notebook and write down everything they are asked to do. Additionally, students must ask questions and clarify doubts to presume their progress. Shyness should not hold them back from engaging and learning from mistakes.
In conclusion, placements can shape a student’s career and provide invaluable experience. Students must take responsibility for their development and must not shy away from taking initiative. With the right mindset, even a poor placement experience can offer significant opportunities to learn and grow.
Keep in mind that every experience counts towards enhancing your CV. In the summer of 2011, Paul Noonan undertook an internship with a small firm where he was quickly tasked with various writing assignments such as white papers, industry award entries, pitching to prospective clients, including British Library, and collaborating with prominent print and broadcast journalists. Despite being a student at the time, he rose to the challenge and successfully accomplished his responsibilities.
Whilst it might have been stressful at times, Noonan recounts that his experience not only led to graduating with first-class honours but also allowed him to gain industry-specific knowledge, practical skills, and a robust evidence portfolio. This experience was vital as it enabled him to stand out in the job market compared to his peers who only had theoretical knowledge and no real-life experience.