Thinking about placement applications, let alone actually embarking on a year out from studying at uni can be terrifying, but with careful planning and adjusting your expectations you can have the best year.
Firstly, how do you secure yourself a placement?
- Research – Find out what it is you want to do, where you want to do it and what opportunities there are- look further than just the options your uni provides you with. Then check for application deadlines, experience or grades required before applying.
- Interviews and applications- Be prepared, have cover letters and CVs written or study abroad applications prepared. When you have interviews be well informed of the company and be professional.
- Don’t give up! Yes, this is easy to say but difficult in practice, but if you are persistent and resilient then you will find a placement that you want!
So, once you have your placement organised it unfortunately is not the only struggle you will face, regardless of if you’re studying, working or doing both in the U.K or abroad there is going to be a lot to adjust to. Whether it is not having as much time as you used to, adapting to a new culture, struggling with a new language or simply office politics. It will be likely that you will be exhausted after your first few weeks, however, there are a few things you can do before and on your placement to reduce the stress of it.
- Adapt your expectations- Let’s be real, especially if you’re working full time placement might not be the best year of your life, working long hours, away from home and in a position that you may not love could make it extremely difficult to enjoy all the time. If you go in with the attitude that it is ok to have good days and bad days, taking each day as it comes then it will be easier. Don’t expect it to be easy at the start!
- Plan – Make your life easier by planning a few things such as accommodation or transport in advance. For example, finding a place to live that gives you the shortest commute will reduce stress and tiredness. Also, planning travel in advance, giving your work warning for any holidays and also to avoid expensive tickets. If you are moving abroad take all the correct documents and papers can make all the necessary things such as opening a bank account and registering with the local offices less stressful.
- Stay in contact with friends and family. In the first few weeks it may be exciting but being in a strange environment, working or studying will sometimes feel isolating. Be sure to keep in contact with people at home and speak honestly about your feelings with them, as its important to maintain friendships even if you’re not still there.
- Look after yourself! It is so easy when you’re in a different routine not to be as healthy physically and mentally as you might have been before. If you have a 9-5 job, try and fit in some exercise into your day. Allot time for self care whether it be a face mask, or a day of watching Netflix and doing nothing if you’ve had a crazy week. Know when to take it easy and spend some time focusing on yourself.
- Speak out- If you aren’t happy in your placement tell someone your boss, placement supervisor or tutor, so that you can change whatever is bothering you. Don’t go through the entire year miserable as it doesn’t need to be that way.
Your placement year will be different to everybody else’s so don’t compare it with your friends or classmates that you see on Instagram. Be prepared, adjust your expectations and you will have a good year, even if the job or study placement is not your favourite thing in the world the professional and personal skills will make you a better person so stick with it!
Text by Eve Willis
Picture research by Anna Irina; featured image from Pinterest.