I have just completed my placement year working as the Employer Engagement Development Officer in Careers and Placements here at York. As I approach the end of the first term of my final year, I have been able to reflect on my placement, and appreciate how the experience has enhanced my studies and shaped my future ambitions.
Why I decided to do a placement year
Since starting at York, I have been keen to immerse myself in the range of opportunities available. I wanted to use these to gain experience alongside my degree programme. The Placement Year is an optional addition to my degree, but it is something that sparked my interest in 1st Year.
I decided to pursue a placement to gain experience, and apply the knowledge and transferable skills I have developed during my studies. It offered a structured work experience programme that would enable me to gain experience working in a sector that I hadn’t previously considered. I could further develop my skills, and gain exposure to the professional world, too.
My placement in a pandemic
My placement has undoubtedly been one of the most valuable experiences at university.
I was part of the Employer Engagement and Events Team within Careers and Placements. It was my team’s responsibility to develop and maintain relationships with graduate employers, organise a programme of careers events, and host our annual careers fairs. This means that no day was ever the same. There was always something different for me to get involved in with.
Alongside the team workload, I was given my own projects to manage and lead on. One of which was to increase the visibility of, and maintain employer engagement with, the University’s employer offer. This gave me the opportunity to design and update the Employer webpages, as well as working with designers to produce the new employer brochure. Both of these things I had never experienced before!
I have so many favourite memories from my placement experience, but my highlight has to be organising and delivering Careers and Placements’ Partnership Celebration Event. This brought together key employer partners, senior staff from the University, and an MP. The event recognised the work that employer partners do to support Careers and Placements’ programmes, and discussed how these partnerships can support the Social Mobility Pledge. Although there were challenges to overcome during the organisation, this experience was highly rewarding, and definitely enhanced my placement year.
What I have gained from doing a placement
Since coming back to academia, I have been able to appreciate the range of skills that I developed on placement. I learned everything from teamwork and interpersonal skills to project management, communication and time management. These skills are incredibly valuable. I now have confidence in my ability to make decisions, communicate effectively and manage my workload. I do hope that this confidence carries through the rest of my academic life, and in future employment.
My placement year has shown me how the skills from my degree can be applied to the world of work. I am now considering possible career paths post-university.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my placement year, and would highly recommend the experience to anyone considering it. Whether you know what you want to do after university, or not, a placement year can help. They show that you have sought work experience, and will help you to stand out from the crowd!