January 27, 2016, by Editor

Placements – A solution for career hunt frustration

Written by Stephen Vaccarini.

I have recently come to the University from a corporate recruitment role.  One where I had become sick of repeatedly turning away eager, freshly graduated students from Nottingham and other universities.  Most were keen, bright and energised, with great educational experience and amazing degree results.  Sadly, however, employers, even for Graduate Schemes wanted evidence of work experience.  

Now if this was how I was feeling, how must those frustrated graduates have felt?

Nottingham University already has higher than average graduate employment rates, but in a competitive sector, Placement experience has been identified as one of the key drivers to ‘stay ahead of the game’.

Placement support is one of the driving tenents of the University Employment Agenda.  Graduates will be equipped not only with an education, but also with all the employment-ready skills desired by most employers.   The careers journey does not start in the third year or after graduation, but must build momentum by creating solid foundations in the first and second year.

With placements opportunities and internships the potential is huge.  Placement providers from national and local government, business, Third sector organisations, NGOs, media and pressure groups amongst others are crying out for talent they can utilise in specific roles and projects.  The outcome will always be win-win; the placement provider will gain the support they want, plus the kudos of making university links and by participation in graduate employability.

As a ‘Placee’ you will gain:

Essential life and work experience to aid your self development.  This includes building confidence and self-organisation skills.

A life changing massive addition to your CV which will attract a multitude of employers.

Valuable networking and career opportunities post-graduation from relationships built with your placement provider.

Remuneration: in some cases, placements are paid or part paid.

Recent research shows UK employers rate degree classification and course choice below that of work experience. Furthermore, employers with links to particular universities (through research or placement activity) are more likely to employ graduates from that university.

Placements come in a number of guises.  These include:

  1. Local part time voluntary placements – during term time.

These are usually one day per week, and in some cases can be accredited to modules or the Nottingham Advantage Award.  These usually last up to 10 weeks.

  1. Paid Placements

These will be during the Easter holiday for 2-3 weeks and can also be for a longer period of up to 3 months during the Summer holidays. They can be either be full or part time.  In some cases these may not be local, so students will need to consider accommodation and travel.

  1. Sandwich Year Placements

There are not currently any of these in Politics and International Relations, but options are currently being evaluated.

Student welfare and support

Placement providers will be thoroughly vetted and audited by the university.  I will ensure that all Placement Providers supply an agenda and responsibilities of the work experience in advance of the start date so you do not find yourself making tea all day,  filing or sorting out stationery rooms!!

Feedback at the end of the placement will be required from both student and the placement provider.

Prior to the placement process, the Careers service offers interview and CV guidance, as well as preparation support for a working role and adapting to a non-academic work environment.  There is plenty of guidance on how to get the most out of the experience, and how that experience can benefit you in the future.

Steve Vaccarini is a Placement and Employability Officer at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Posted in Student voices