Placement, Yes or No?
It is becoming increasingly common for university students to complete a year on placement as part of their university course. Particularly for students doing business-related courses, a placement year is an extremely valuable opportunity to make yourself stand out from the crowd of the tens of thousands of business students that will all be applying for post-graduate jobs when they finish university. After all, there isn’t much use learning books full of theory if you don’t know how to apply it to real life situations.
It was for these reasons that I decided to take the placement route. At university I am doing a Business Management and Marketing course so ideally, I wanted to do my placement in marketing. Luckily an opportunity was presented to me to work for risual Ltd. Through research and word of mouth I had heard that risual was a truly exciting place to work, where hard work, trust and loyalty are heavily rewarded and, so far, I can do nothing but agree. I was also aware that risual ran a very big and a very successful apprenticeship scheme and I have since discovered that a large portion of the people that work here have actually come through the apprenticeship route here at risual! This is great to see as it showcases the devotion and support that risual provide for their staff, from top to bottom.
Despite the prospects of working for such a fast growing and high achieving company, initially I was quite worried about joining risual because, being an IT services company, I had very little knowledge and understanding about what risual did and thought that I would be massively out of my depth. Soon after starting at risual I realised that my lack of experience was not an obstruction to my development but instead an obstacle to overcome. Although I am by no means an expert on the various aspects of risual operations, I have certainly wrapped my head around the basic functions and I am rapidly improving my knowledge every day and that is purely due to the endless support that is part of the package of working at risual.
As the majority of students who have applied for a placement will know, most second year university students have very limited work experience and most experience that you do have is perhaps not valuable to the company you are applying to. I found myself in this position because, despite having plenty of experience in part-time jobs like bar work and general labour, I did not have any specific skills that are labelled as ‘valuable’. A lack of specific skills should not be reason to become deflated and put off though. Any quality company offering a placement will understand that university students won’t always have an abundance of specific skills which is why you need to focus on the more generic skills that you have which can be just as important in a business role.
By generic skills I am referring to how well you are able to lead, how well you are able to communicate and how well you are able to cope under pressure. Companies want to know firstly if you possess these skills and secondly, what evidence you can provide that will prove that you do have these skills.
Taking a year out from university to work was a decision I made before I even went to university as I thought it was a no brainer. To throw away the opportunity to obtain a full year’s worth of experience in a real company seemed ludicrous and every day I work for risual I am reminded that I made the correct decision.