Placement years useful – what are they, why do them?


Some degrees have an essential part to them, that being the work placement. Completing a work placement increases skills & employability once you complete your studies. Expanding your networks and helping you understand if this would be the right career choice once you have completed your studies.

Clear up the Confusion

The two are often confused as the same thing but they are completely different.

Usually Internships can be undertaken for a few weeks during the year, over the summer months or once you complete your studies to gain experience in a particular field of work.

Whereas work placements are taken as part of the degree. Students that are on a placement year will be completing a module and will receive academic credit for the year.

Arranging your placement

So, you’re studying a course that includes a work placement. What now?

Your first port of call should be the university careers service. They have a large database of employers and alumni contacts that can be approach. There will be career advisors available for you to talk to throughout the process. Ensure you take advantage of the work experience fairs. Theses will help you to make contact with employers which can help you search for suitable placements online.

You can also approach employers direct to find and secure work placements. If your struggling to arrange a placement there are plenty of things you can do to build your skills and gain experience. You could apply for virtual work experience. Try to get involved in online volunteering opportunities or apply for temporary or part-time roles. All these activities can build your transferable skills and demonstrate to employers your tenacious, proactive, outside-the-box thinking.

Applying for placements

Some universities may organise opportunities on your behalf if its apart of your course, others will assist you in identifying and applying for placements.

Arranging your own placement? – one that isn’t an essential element of the course? – companies may require you to complete a formal online application, detailing what you could bring to the role. Applying for work placement can be as competitive as applying for a permanent job. Many companies will hold formal interviews and assessment centres. Its therefore essential that before you apply you do the research in to the company and the role.


Whether you receive a wage during your work placement will depend on the type of placement you undertake and the length of time you work for. Ensure to discuss any matters of payments with the organisation you’ll be working for getting things clear before starting the placement.

There are a number of advantages to completing a work placement

Lets you apply your knowledge and skills in a work setting

Increases your skill and competencies making you highly sought after by employers.

Gives an insight in to how workplaces operate.

Gives understanding within a particular job or industry so you know if its the right fit.

Can open up opportunities for training courses within the work place – resulting in more skills on your CV.

Can also give you a reference opportunity for an future employer to approach.

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