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Benefits and challenges of choosing a work placement

Benefits and challenges of a work placement

Did you know...

  • 47% of placement students and interns were hired into graduate jobs by their placement employer (Ratemyplacement guide 2021)
  • 61% of HR managers said relevant work experience was more important than the grades achieved by graduates (Personnel Today 2019)                                     

There are many potential benefits to undertaking a work placement and some challenges to consider too, the key ones are listed below. You can also listen to our podcast titled 'Work placements - are they worth it?' on spotify here, Itunes here or Podbeam here.

One of the key advantages of work placements is supporting a student's development into a better candidate when applying for graduate jobs. A Ratemyplacement report in 2021 stated that on average there were 79 applicants per graduate role so there can be a lot of competition. Undertaking a work placement module or programme can help when applying and competing for graduate roles by; improving skills e.g. writing a strong CV or performing well in interviews, increasing knowledge, having more achievements you can use as evidence in your applications and interviews, increasing understanding of the world of work, developing self-awareness skills and the ability to articulate skills and achievements.

Some employers use work placements to find future employees. They use their placement programmes as a fast-track process for graduate recruitment and whilst this is generally the larger employers, many small employers also do the same thing.

It may be difficult to know which role, company, sector or country you may wish to work in when you graduate from University. Placements give you the opportunity to do some of that research and try them out without committing long-term. Finding out that a certain job or company isn't for you is just as valuable as finding a role you wish to explore further. Once you're in the workplace you will also meet professionals who are doing jobs you didn't know existed, this can help you focus on the area of work you wish to go in to.

This is a key area which you will develop not only through the application process for placements but also through undertaking a work placement. These are becoming more vital as you move through your degree and start to look for graduate roles, as they will help you find roles and give you advice to secure them.

Work placements can be based anywhere in the world so you could explore different places and countries whilst working. One of the other key advantages of working abroad or in another part of the country, is meeting people from other countries who may have different cultural backgrounds and customs (work and personal). Many employers are looking for intercultural awareness and a 'global mind-set' as key skills for staff due to the international nature of business and staff within their own and their clients organisations.

It can take a lot of work to find and secure a placement for some students with unsuccessful applications being very disappointing. For yearlong students it may mean you don't get to return to your fourth year to live with the friends you've spent your first and second year studying with. However, there is a wide range of support available for placement students to assist them with finding and securing a work placement and for all of the reasons above, it could have a significantly positive impact on your future graduate career.

You can read about other students' experiences of placements and internships on the Career Zone blog. Take a look here for some placement inspiration.