Why my college placement was helpful for my career

Getting experience on work placements can be invaluable when it comes to full time work.

Written by Caoimhe Guinnane


Another academic year is coming to a close for students across the country, exam preparations are underway and final papers are being handed in. Lectures get stuck into grading and marking mode.

Placement is a mixture of work and volunteering. Placement is being an apprentice in the field when working and learning simultaneously. A lot of students are required to venture out into the workforce for a period of 3 months right up to 1 year depending on the course they are doing. As I am studying in an institute of technology, we often don’t get paid for completing placements. This is where the volunteering aspect of the placement comes into play. Students cannot be paid for their placements as it is seen as a learning environment and experience. This is in somewhat an unfair circumstance.

Some students maybe double jobbing to make ends meet but these are the sacrifices us students have to make to get our degrees! Students usually undertake a “placement”, “work experience” or an “internship”, these are all different terms for talking about gaining workforce experience. Due to the high standard of graduates in this day and age, you need to have experience before you can get experience or secure a job. Placement gives you the exposure in getting valid learning and insight into what it means to be a part of a work force. The student gets the chance to learn what the requirements and responsibilities of the job actually are.

It also lets you get a feel for the job and to test out whether you can bring something to the job and to figure out if it may be a career path for you in the future or not. The work involved all depends on what company, agency or organisation you are completing your placement with. The key aspects to keep in mind are: To know who the main supervisor is or boss in charge if there is ever anything you need help with. These are the people with whom you need to contact if you are unable to make work and often help deal with your rota etc. The routine of the workplace is a vital part of the learning experience. This is how you will know your role and responsibilities put upon you and what you need to have achieved by the end of the working day or week. The policies and procedures are the key to how the company or organisation likes to operate their business. These are essential guidelines that everyone should be familiar with when working within an organisation.

Before you enter into a placement knowing or having some idea of what you want to achieve whilst on placement will help to give you a focus over the placement period. If the learning objectives are challenging and not something you have delved too much into before it may be a good thing. Everyone should step out of their comfort zone once in a while! Placement gives you an insight into how the hierarchies within some organisations or companies work. It allows you to learn how to professionally develop relationships with your co-workers and the service users you may be dealing with. As a student it has given me a chance to see and apply the theories and terms that I learned within the college environment and use them within the workforce and seeing how they can be useful in dealing with service users.

Placement benefited me by giving me the chance to make mistakes in a working environment and learning from them through reflection on my actions. It has prepared me for the real workforce and it has made me a lot less anxious about entering into a full time job when the time comes. It has allowed me to make connections and set up networks within my chosen field of social care. These connections are a setup for future prospects.

The training for various courses that I have obtained whilst on placement are invaluable and add more skills set to my CV.

On balance I would recommend anyone to do a placement. It is an unforgettable experience and it will stand to you in the future. If you are not in college or further education, I would recommend even doing volunteering once a week. It is good for your mental health in getting out and meeting people. In the end it could be the thing that wins a future employer over. I have loved all the placements I have done; the memories and experiences will forever stand to me.

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