Saturday, 1 April 2017

My Thoughts/Experiences on a Placement Year.

Are you completely on the fence about doing a placement year?! Or having those last minute nerves?! I know this time last year I was exactly that and I wish I could have read someone's thoughts and experiences! So here are mine, hope this helps! 

I know every uni is different, but certainly for me, it was around this time that people were confirming placements and deciding whether to effectively take a gap year, gaining useful experience in an industry that you'd want to work in in the future. I know that if I had more advice, this time last year I would have felt far more excited and at ease doing a placement, so I thought I would chat about my experience!
*Obviously, it goes without saying that this is my personal experience and that everybody is different!*

So, I am coming up to my final few months at Acheson & Acheson (*basically balling my eyes out*) but I work as a Lab Technician for a business which is very involved in the research and development of many household skincare brands, including Elemis and Bulldog. I can honestly, hand on heart say that it has been the best year of my life so far, and certainly of my university experience. It has really put into perspective a lot of things and has shown me where my degree can get me and the types of things I can do when I graduate. It has greatly increased my motivation to study and just get the best degree I can in my final year, so I can go on to do what I love!

A lot of people find a placement through university as a lot of companies advertise placements through uni but for me personally, I sourced this placement myself. I actually contacted the lab for work experience and in December 2015 I worked for a week at A&A. I was subsequently offered the position as Lab Technician for a year (2016/17) which at first I was really very nervous to accept. I had always been very adamant that I was NOT going to work in a lab, I had my mind very made up, but I thought I'd give it a go and see how I got on and honestly I am so relieved I accepted the offer! Being on this placement year has made me fall in love with science again and really opened  up my eyes to an industry that I am so excited to get back into once I've left uni. 
This time last year, if you'd told me I would absolutely love spending my days in a lab, I'd have laughed at you and told you it's ridiculous! But honestly I LOVE it! 

Doing a placement year is a fab way to experience a potential area of work, and to see whether you like it or not. Some people I know have even worked for two different companies throughout the year, giving them even more of an idea. Even if you do find that you're in a role that you don't particularly enjoy, a year is a very short time in the grand scheme of things (especially if your contract is only 38-48 weeks) and at least you know that after uni, that really isn't the job/field for you. 
In addition, certainly for science, a lot of jobs require a year of lab experience, so if you can get that in the bag before you've even left uni then that's even better and will put you in great stead for any future careers. 
Not only is it beneficial career wise, placement is also great for motivating you to really get on with final year and make the best of it. I can safely say, I have a much greater sense of purpose with regards to my degree now and just want to get it done so I can get back into the world of work. 
It's also really quite nice having a break from continuous deadlines and studying, and actually really refreshing to have a change of scenery for a year. You obviously still get time off to go and visit friends at uni and the year goes so fast it's quite terrifying! 

I must say, I am really struggling with the idea of returning to uni. I have had a taste of my ideal career, in a company where every single person is just lovely and I really feel like part of a family. I love having a really structured routine, even if it does mean getting up at 6:45 everyday and earning an actual wage is pretty fab! I have found that even on weekends, my time management is so much better and I am honestly gutted that I am very much over half way through the best year of my life so far! Honestly, if you are really on the fence about taking a placement, take one!
You'll meet some extraordinary people and also have the chance to work in a really interesting job, doing something you may end up doing when you graduate! You won't regret it! 

E x 

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