September 6, 2016, by Grace Pownall

What I Learned on My Summer Placement

by Grace Pownall, student blogger

During my second year, I spent a lot of time diligently hunting for a summer placement. I sent out several applications and went to two interviews, documenting my experience for the Careers and Employability Service.

My hard work eventually paid off, and I found a role perfectly suited to me at an international engineering consultancy, with an office just down the road from the University.

After lots of celebrating, reality hit.

You may think once you’ve made it through all the applications, assessments, and interviews that the hard work is over – but it’s actually only the beginning. Now, it was time to live up to that shining CV, deliver the skills promised, and make a good impression…

In hindsight, however, I realise that I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, maybe too much. Placements are actually an opportunity for learning new skills. Employers encourage you to ask questions – you’re not expected to understand everything on day one!

From my first day to my final day

That’s not to say being on placement isn’t hard work. Just two hours into my first day, I was asked to do some design calculations for a huge project. The task was similar to a coursework project I’d done at university – but that was months ago.

Fortunately, I was given lots of help from my assigned mentor. By the end of the placement, I was completing more complex tasks using new software that I’d learned how to use on the job. Looking back at what I was designing during the first week in comparison to my last week really highlighted how much I learned and how valuable the experience was.

Working 9-5

I also found out what it is like working eight hours a day, five days a week. While I do have a lot of contact hours at university, a full-time job was a bit of a shock to the system.

Eventually, I got used to that early alarm clock, and even got up extra early one day for an office breakfast at Annie’s Burger Shack!

What did I learn?

My placement was one of the highlights of my second year; I’m now looking forward to coming back in September with a new perspective towards my course, some new skills, and motivation to more work experience next summer.

If you’re looking for placements for next year, you can find lots of useful information here. If you’re stuck on a placement application, book a one-to-one with a careers adviser on My Career.

Posted in Work experience