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December 20, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

An Optional Placement Year – What Are the Benefits?

By Alex Owusu, Placement Year Officer

Doing a placement year during your course is a great way for you to gain experience in, and exposure to a professional field of interest. With an ever-increasing number of students choosing to do a placement year, you may have started thinking whether it could be the right option for you.

What does the data show?

So why do a placement year? Our data indicates that completing a year in industry whilst studying has a positive effect on a range of outcomes for University of Nottingham graduates compared to those who don’t complete a year in industry.

Here are some ways it could have a positive impact:

Doing a placement could help you secure a graduate role or further study

Undertaking a placement year gives you an opportunity to develop a range of transferrable skills that are highly sought after in the graduate labour market. You’ll also have had a range of professional experiences you can reflect on and use when applying for graduate roles or further study. Additionally, going through the recruitment process for a placement will give you increased knowledge around the process and how to tackle the various aspects of it, improving your chances of being successful in your next steps.

Doing a placement could help you decide your next steps

You may do a placement in an industry and role that you have a clear interest in or to explore a potential area of interest. Either way, your exposure to a particular area and the breadth of activities you are involved in will help you to gain a better understanding of what you like and don’t like, providing an insight into the direction you might want to head in next. Across your placement you will be encouraged to reflect on how your career thinking has progressed and any future goals and aspirations you have. All of this should support your thinking around next steps, making it more likely your next activity after graduation will have greater alignment with your future plans.

Doing a placement year could help improve your degree performance

Taking a year out to do a placement can give you a valuable opportunity to apply skills you’ve developed on your course in a professional setting, whether degree-specific or more general transferrable skills. Being able to put these into practice can help support and supplement your learning when you return to university. Also, having the structure of a full-time role could help develop key skills like time and task management that you can embed into the academic side of your university life when you return for your final year.

Interested? Here are some next steps

Take a look at our Optional Placement Year webpage, where you can find out more about the scheme and download the Student handbook for further information. You may also wish to view presentations from past placement students to get an insight into what a placement year could be like.

Whatever stage you’re at in terms of thinking about placements, you can book a one-to-one appointment with a member of the Careers team to support you. You can also email us any questions you have about the Optional Placement Year. We’ll be happy to help!