You’d like to do a placement year, but don’t know where to start?

Sam Ayling

When looking at the potential placement opportunities available to you, it’s important to be equipped with the relevant knowledge to make the best decision, as well as considering what you want personally. However, this isn’t easy! There are so many options, and it can be challenging to know which way to go when evaluating all your opportunities.

Seeing as you’ve landed on this page you’re probably aware of the many benefits that a placement can deliver to you personally and professionally - but how do you evaluate the different placement options, and where do you start?

As someone who's been a Marketing Intern at DabApps over the last 9 months, and as someone who’s found the experience an invaluable step toward developing myself personally and professionally, I’d like to share a few of my insights so that you too can be happy at any future placement.

Consider whether your university/college offers any services that can help you

We all know that the race is on when it comes to securing a placement, as it can be very competitive. That’s why it’s important to embrace any and all resources that your university/college has available to you. For me personally, at Sussex University, as soon as someone knows that they’d like to do a placement, they can register with the Placement Preparation Programme online which helps you identify your skills and get the edge in applications and interviews. We also have CareerHub, which is our very own online job search portal for students interested in doing either an internship or entering a job right after graduating.

No matter what university/college you attend, simply researching on your institute's website or doing a quick Google Search can help you find out what processes have already been put in place to help students in your position.

Create a LinkedIn account if you don’t have one already

Although it may be slightly harder to understand what LinkedIn can do for you if you aren’t already familiar with it, you should definitely explore this option! Make a LinkedIn account to try and build connections there and watch out for who is hiring. Keep an eye on your inbox to see any new opportunities coming in. Here are some of the many things LinkedIn is great at doing:

  • Helping you see what current interns are doing on the placement that you actually want to do.
  • Allowing you to gain an understanding of how many people are applying to each placement opportunity so that you know what your competition is.
  • Allowing you to network and ask questions.
  • Enabling you to find and connect with other people that have got the same placement as you, once you’ve secured one.
  • It’s also a great idea to link alongside your CV, so any potential employers can find you on there before interviewing you.

Create a RateMyPlacement account

RateMyPlacement is the UK’s leading job board for students seeking paid placements, internships and insight schemes - so sign up and see what you can find! It’s also super useful as you can see testimonials/reviews from past interns who have completed placements that you might be interested in doing, which can help inform your decision making.

Hopefully these tips will help in making the process of finding a placement a whole lot simpler.

Now that we’ve explored some of the ways to approach finding a placement, it’s important that we know what to actually look for in placement opportunities.

Things to consider:

Make sure it’s in an industry that you are interested in

This is especially important as the valuable experience and connections you’ll gain from your placement may benefit you in the future! Make sure you connect with anyone that you meet whilst on your placement on LinkedIn. Also who knows.. if you impress your employer then you may have the opportunity to come back after your education has concluded. Additionally, if you have any career goals, make sure the industry that you choose to do your placement in aligns with them.

Make sure the placement company you choose has a good company culture

This is a bit of an obvious one, but you don’t want to be working for a company that is negative towards its employees, or even one that has ridiculously high expectations of you. Ensure that the atmosphere at your organisation is encouraging and inclusive. Make sure that the company you choose is professional in the way it treats its employees, and that the values it expresses are ones that resonate with yours.

Make sure there are opportunities for your placement to help develop you professionally (and personally)

Make sure that you think about whether the placement organisation offers training, mentorship, access to experts in the industry etc. Make sure you look at the positions that they offer and consider whether any of these positions would allow you to expand your skill set.

Make sure you consider the logistics

Such as the duration of your placement, whether remote working is allowed, how far from your placement you’ll be, the travel costs associated with that, the amount that you will be paid (make sure you can support yourself) and more. If your placement salary is around £20,000 or above then you should be able to support yourself, but make sure that you check this, and budget accordingly. Think about how much you would be taking home each month, how much you would be spending on rent and other associated living costs. Make sure that you are able to sustain your lifestyle during your placement period.

I hope these insights help you to consider a few things you might not have thought about when it comes to approaching placement organisations and what to look for - now go get ‘em!