Careers

Careers

The Importance of Placements

Having just returned from a 13-month placement at BMW UK based down in Surrey, I really couldn’t encourage a year in industry enough. I worked as the Aftersales E-Commerce intern, which basically entailed managing the online sales platforms for everything but the car – accessories, lifestyle, parts.

From the moment I came to University I always knew I wanted to undertake an industrial placement, mainly because I wanted to extend my time at Uni and delay entering the real world, but also because I knew the extent to the benefits I would gain from a year out. Although, I must admit the application process is extremely lengthy, time-consuming and draining (especially when those rejections come in), as well as keeping up with your deadlines and obviously social life – the benefits you reap from taking the time and effort to apply will definitely outweigh those early drawbacks.

I’m going to explain some of the benefits I believe you experience (or I definitely did) taking a year out in industry. Starting with the obvious – improvements and additions to your CV. When you’re looking to apply to jobs after you finish Uni, you will definitely thank 2nd year you for doing a placement. A lot of my friends have recently been doing video interviews and assessment centres for grad jobs which entail a lot of competency questions around when you have shown good teamwork, communication skills, shown your initiative, and so on. They have all admitted that without a placement under their belt, they really would have struggled to answer these sufficiently, to the standard required and expected – as without a placement, their experience is limited.

Secondly, doing a placement will inevitably improve your personal skills in all areas including; communication, confidence, independence, IT skills, teamwork, time-management, leadership, communication, and many more! Working in a real-life business, really does allow you to flourish and develop your skills in all areas. You have the opportunity to learn about yourself, as well as your role and the business itself. This is invaluable to your personal development and growth. Furthermore, you may not only learn what you DO want to do for work in the future, but a placement will also help you to learn what you definitely DON’T want to do – which is just as valuable. Before my placement, I had some ideas in my head of what I would like to pursue in the future, however my year at BMW really did change this. I saw those job roles in action and they weren’t at all what I expected, changing my goals and ambitions entirely. As well as this, you will also learn what motivates you in the workplace. Prior to my placement, I thought money was my sole motivator, however sometimes experiencing times of boredom and mundane tasks during my placement, really taught me that I need variety and change in my work to stay motivated. I now know that I’d love to go into a client facing role that requires me to travel, doing different things each day – irrespective of the salary.

As well as learning whilst you’re on your placement year, undertaking a year out will also change your learning when you return to Uni for your final year. Everything we now learn in our lectures and seminars is really put into perspective for me, thanks to my placement year. Theories and practices are much more clearly defined as I am able to put each idea into real-life examples from my own experiences. Whereas before my year out, I really struggled to understand some of the business concepts and practices as I had an extremely limited idea of what an actual business was like and how it ran day-to-day – other than restaurants, bars & shops that I had worked in before.

I really urge that if you have the opportunity to take a year out in industry – JUST GO FOR IT! Trust me you will thank yourself for it later!

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