Every student should consider a placement year

Back of graduates during commencement at university. Close up at graduate cap
As a student, the past two years have taught me a lot. Not only have I learned valuable life lessons, like how to live with strangers and how to live off £10 a week, I’ve gained some very valuable knowledge through my studies at Sheffield Hallam University.
Six months ago, I found myself at a crossroads: should I complete my final year or take a year in industry? For me, it was a no-brainer to look for a placement, especially in an industry like PR. I believe you learn the most from jumping in at the deep end and by pushing yourselfs outside of your comfort zone: I feel I’ve learned more in my first two months than I have in two years sitting in lecture theatres.
Despite the small number of negatives, like not graduating with some of my friends, it really excited me to have a change of scenery in a new city. I had visited Manchester a few times before joining the Smoking Gun team, so I knew some of the great things it had to offer, like the culture, the nightlife and, of course, the football.
In my first week at the agency I met the team and began to learn the ropes of my accounts. The very welcoming bunch at 64 Bridge Street made me feel at home from the off, which is the reassurance any undergraduate needs when entering the working environment for the first time.
Instantly, I felt like I’d emerged from my student cocoon to become a professional. I was lucky enough to go on a media-drop in my first week for our client, Silentnight, which allowed me to meet some of Manchester’s media. The following weekend, I took a trip to Les Mills Live in London… never have I been so happy to work a Saturday!
Only just out of the starting blocks, I have developed all kinds of skills, such as: press release writing, admin skills, media relations and digital skills, all of which simply can’t be taught in a classroom. Already, I feel more confident and content and can’t wait to see what the next year has to offer.
Anyone entering their second year at university who has doubts about a placement year should reconsider. Getting a job after graduating is hard for anyone, so get ahead of the pack with a year’s experience under your belt. Also if you are unsure about what you want to do after uni, a placement can help make your mind up. Don’t get me wrong, midweek nights out and Netflix binges are fun, but a year in industry gives you the prospects and experience that is vital for life after uni.

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