University offers many opportunities, for many courses one of these is taking an ‘industrial placement’ (a year off to work in the real world). This often involves working in an industry that relates to your course and allows you to do much more than just make the tea. But should you consider taking on this opportunity or is it better to just get your course done and head into the working world afterwards? Obviously the final answer will depend on your individual situations, but there are certain benefits that everyone should consider:
1) Helping your course
If you look hard enough you should be able to find a placement that somewhat relates to your course. When this is the case, putting the theory that you have learnt into practice can be invaluable for several reasons. Firstly, I’m sure you have all experienced that feeling in a lecture on a Friday afternoon that what you are learning is pointless and will never be relevant to anything ever in life. Seeing this ‘pointless’ theory in action can give you that eureka moment which really changes the way you think about your course. Similarly, seeing skills in the workplace can help you understand more complex theories that you just couldn’t get your head around in the lecture hall.
2) Boost your CV
The obvious but important benefit of doing a year in industry is that it will add a huge amount to your CV. In an increasingly competitive jobs market having a whole year of work experience can really make the difference. It shows employers that you have already started to develop your workplace skills and are more equipped to deal with the 9-5 life!
Some companies even offer their placement students a job at the end of the year, great motivation to work hard throughout. Securing a job before tackling third year is a huge bonus which can really ease the workload when dissertations and final exams roll around.
Most placements will pay you, salaries usually range from £14,000 to £21,000. This seems like an obvious thing to say but it will be a welcome bonus after living off a student loan for two years. Having a little extra cash will allow you to go on a few more meals out, enjoy a lavish holiday or even save to make final year of Uni that bit easier. You also still get the benefits of a student despite having a paid job – placement students don’t have to pay council tax and you can still claim a slightly smaller student loan (up to £2,709) .
On top of this make sure to check on the income tax you have paid every April. Because of the way the financial year works you may well end up getting a nice tax rebate when you return to Uni.
4) A fun experience
While having fun on placement is not guaranteed, it does expose you to an exciting new way of life, often in a new city or even new country! If you are getting bored of your current university surroundings, a year in a different place can be really refreshing and make you appreciate your uni once more when you get back.
You will also probably not be the only student in whatever placement you do, giving the possibility of making a new group of friends as well. It may be daunting to leave your university mates for a year, but try to see it more as an opportunity to meet interesting new people with similar interests to you from across the country.
These are just a few of the benefits that come with the decision to do a placement year, I really cannot recommend it enough. There are drawbacks of course, if you are the only one of your friendship group to take a year out it may be a little strange when you return – but forward on this advice to them and hopefully there will be no issues.