Exploring the option of going on Placement? Read on to find out more about what it is, what it’s like and why it’s a great idea.


Depending on your course, you will have heard the word ‘Placement’ being thrown around quite a fair bit. ‘Going on Placement’ at the University of Surrey means spending a year doing actual work in the industry of your choice. The aim is to equip you with real life work experience, accrue course-relevant skills that will look impressive on your CV, and to try to get you to grow up, just that little bit.


I am currently on Placement at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, in the Legal team. I started in February as a Legal Intern. Prior to Placement, I studied abroad at Reijksuniversiteit Groningen in northern Holland for 5 months as I decided to split my year-out into a 50/50 work and study year. I recently decided that I wanted to stay on at the Council and have now assumed the position of Paralegal as a summer job until I return to Uni in my final year at the end of September.


Going on Placement has been an incredibly enriching experience. I had no previous experience of office life and I definitely wasn’t as savvy with photocopiers as I had thought. The entire experience was beneficial yet humbling: nothing will ever replace the real, hands-on experience of working in a legal environment. I manage my own workload, get involved with drafting anything from case reviews to agreements, undertake research into the statutes that govern Local Government and ultimately provide a service to our clients.


Getting a Placement is definitely the most challenging step in the process. There are many things to consider: field of work, paid or unpaid work, length of stay, company structure and culture, having a support system inside and outside of work, travelling to and from the workplace, location and so on. After you’ve decided that working in a laboratory, animal rescue shelter or asset management company is right for you, you will need to start planning your Placement. Don’t worry too much about this – you will receive a tonne of guidance from the Placement team at Surrey. The Placement itself is a module on SurreyLearn so you will never lose out on information.


Life after Placement is exciting. You have a new set of skills and competences sunder your belt that will boost your CV and application forms to make you stand out of the rest. The secret is to not view it as an ‘extra year’ on top of your degree, but simply a head start to working life. You know that vicious cycle of employers looking for graduates with experience and then realising that you need a job to get experience to get a job to get experience to get a job? Yeah. That won’t be you. Because you did a Placement year. Smart.


Equally, if you undergo a Placement year to find that you absolutely despise the type of work your course is preparing you for then do not fret. It is just as useful to know that that is not what you want to do in life and it is better to know this sooner than later. Besides – you will have had the experience regardless of whether you use the skills or not and that in itself is a bonus.


Get out there and create opportunities for yourself whether it’s by doing a Placement or some other work experience — you won’t regret it.



Text by Naomy Kuma

Picture research by Donna Darafshian; featured image from gensleron.com.