Benefits of Work Experience

Are students ready for the world of work?

I am a student at Nottingham Trent University, studying Product design. I have just started a 9-month placement as part of a 4-year sandwich course. During my year out I have carried out a months work experience at the studio 4, 5 months part time work in retail and I am just starting a 9 month placement back here with the studio 4.

Many university courses offer 4-year sandwich courses, which include a placement year. Placement years do help to prepare you for the world of work as long as you find a placement!

Finding a placement

This is a lot harder than what I originally thought. Universities advertise placements but you’re most likely not the only university who will be applying for the positions available. The amount of people applying for the placement on your course x how many other universities are aware that a placement is available. That’s a lot of competition.

Some of the positions available would be chances of a lifetime for example working with top brands, working abroad but they all come with costs and not everyone can afford to live where these placements are.

Carrying out your own research into the area you wish to find a placement is vital. Ask people you know if they have any contacts in that industry and try and get in contact with as many people as you can to see if any will offer you any experience or even a placement.

Why placements are good

  • Placements help you to adapt to how the industry works, as it’s a lot different to university.
  • Gives you experience in the industry you want to go into
  • Lets you know if that’s the type of company you want to work for.
  • Learn new skills, I have been taught how to use more programs which are used in design and picked up new skills on how to use some programs I thought I already new how to use.
  • Helps to build your confidence
  • You can gain contacts; it’s not what you know it’s who you know!

How are placements different to university?

Placements are very different to university. A main point I have noticed is that you don’t have the time to procrastinate when your at work but when a lot of people do work for university they put it off as long as they can. Product design in university you have time to design and play around with ideas but when on placement you don’t have the time to waste.

You get to work and speak to real clients, asking what they want and what they would like changing, this helps to develop your knowledge so you know what people do and don’t like, where at university you don’t have that interaction with the clients.

Placements will help you to boost your employability after university, companies look for people to employ who have experience in industry, so this immediately helps to increase you employability.

Students expect to walk straight into a £25,000 a year job just because they have a degree but in fact a lot of students end up going into bar, retail or a job they haven’t studied for.

Students who don’t carry out placements or gain any experience whilst their at university in my opinion will have trouble not just finding work but adjusting to the world of work because it’s a lot different to university. Gaining experience will also help you when finishing your degree.

To conclude, don’t expect university’s to find you placement for you because that won’t happen! Do your research and get in contact with places that you would like to work for. Try and get as much experience in the working environment as you can because it is a lot different to university!

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