During the years of higher education, many students find themselves wondering about what exactly comes next. The variety of options available to choose from suddenly widens, especially nearing university education. A lot of students feel very overwhelmed by the magnitude of decisions needed to be made: one of these decisions being placement years at university.
Students may limit their options to doing a placement year close by, but also overlook the wider possibilities of expanding and exploring their options to do placement years elsewhere. Students may also wonder if they can go abroad for their placement year instead of staying in their home country.
In short, it is very much possible to do a placement year abroad. In fact, there are numerous benefits in doing so: one of them being that students gain valuable experience in experiencing different cultures and taking students out of their comfort zones so that they gain real world experience. Not to mention, doing a placement year in general develops precious skills such as communication, efficiency and growth, especially with a professional company.
Read on to find out more about where you could take your placement year.
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What is a placement year?
A placement year is a period of time where work experience is gained by a university student, for example, interning at a professional company or becoming an apprentice.
This is often for a year, although in some circumstances the time allotted may vary. If taken for a year, placement years are generally done as “sandwich years”, meaning that they are done in the middle of your studies, which is usually your third year. It is an opportunity to work, almost a break from normal studies.
To read more about the nature of a Placement Year, this article from Think Student may be a helpful guide.
Can you study abroad in a placement year?
Not really. A placement year is designed so students have a work week, meaning that they can’t exactly do their studies at the same time. If you are studying abroad means attending a new university abroad, but placements abroad are still tied to students’ original university.
Studying abroad and placement years are two different options students can consider doing, both having benefits and drawbacks.
Studying abroad allows students to travel more, as well as having a more flexible schedule. They also offer more support to exchange students. Students will also meet other students, with similar ages and like minds. On the other hand, a work schedule for the placement year is more restrictive, but also allows students to gain a lot of experience working. Working also builds more confidence.
To read more on comparisons of studying abroad and placements, read this blog post from Aston University.
How do you find a placement abroad?
There are several ways to find a placement abroad, and all of them are relatively simple. Below is a list of ways that students can find a work placement abroad:
- Finding jobs on foreign job sites – This is the most standard way to find jobs, but it is a time-consuming process. There’s also a possibility of using English job sites to find a placement abroad.
- Asking the home university – Universities will usually have the contact information of companies who recruit students. The process is a lot easier as there are a lot of opportunities to apply for.
- Asking global companies – Global companies may have a UK office and a year abroad branch in the student’s desired country to work in. Students can approach companies first and be interviewed; approaching the company first shows initiative.
- Applying to start-up companies – There are a lot of new companies starting to flourish, and often, they may need help. Many of these companies have significant funding, and some valuable skills that they look for when hiring are skills like fluent English and social media competency.
- Another way is to ask around with family and friends – Not just close friends and family, but distant relations, friends of friends; there’s someone who will likely know someone who’s hiring.
- Applying on-scene – This is a more spontaneous way of job-hunting and placement hunting, but it involves travelling to the student’s desired destination and job-hunting there. However, as it is a bit more spontaneous, it is better to consider the previous options.
To find out more on how to apply, you can visit this article at Rate My Placement.
Is it worth doing a year abroad at uni?
There are a few aspects to consider when deciding whether to go apply to a placement abroad: academics and social considerations, as well as the purpose of the year.
To do well in a year abroad, students have to stay on top of their work. This requires hard work and the ability to stay sharp. Students will be placed in a completely different environment, therefore it’s important to stay sharp and focused in order to not be overwhelmed. As well as this, in certain countries students might have to end up learning a different language (in countries that aren’t Anglophonic), which requires dedication and commitment on their part.
However, the payoff is immense. The work experience gained and skills learned are valuable qualities that will stand out to employers on students’ CV letters. International experience is definitely extremely valuable especially and shows resolve and dedication to work, as well as the ability to remain composed even in unfamiliar circumstances.
Social consideration is also a payoff. Meeting new people and expanding networks and connections is also invaluable, especially abroad. Working abroad also develops more social skills and boosts confidence.
In conclusion, although a lot of work, dedication and focus has to be put into a placement year, the payoff can be invaluable.