Written by Louis Sherman
BSc (Hons) Applied Geography
Placements were a massive reason I chose to come to Bournemouth University. The reason being that for many of the courses at the university, and across the Faculty of Science and Technology, which I’m part of, it is compulsory to do either two five-week summer placements or one whole year placement. The opportunities and focus this gives us students is quite remarkable, and the skills and experience we gain from any placement is astonishing.
With the university making placements compulsory for many courses it gives a reason for us to stop being lazy and makes us look out into the wider world for these extra experiences. Now a placement can be anything from helping out in your faculty or department with lecturers for 5 weeks, to flying half way around the world to help out in projects in places like Africa and the USA. It really is an amazing opportunity, and one that the uni supports you in along the way. From helping to find a placement, to the forms that have to be filled in, through to grants if you are going abroad, BU has made it efficient and relatively easy to find a placement that may just lead to your future career.
However, the big question is why do a placement? Just because it is compulsory doesn’t mean all people will see why it is something they need to do. Some might see it as a waste of time, or a lot of effort. But it is simply so beneficial to us that no matter what comes in the way, every placement will benefit us in some way. For example, for my summer placement last year I spent 3 weeks at the National Trust and 3 weeks at the secondary school where I used to go. Both these experiences and placements gave me a vast amount of experience and skills I could never hope of achieving on my own last summer, or even across my time at uni. The National Trust taught me how to use a vast amount of conservation techniques and machinery used to protect extinct species and habitats. I also learnt how to identify certain insect species, and learnt all about the importance of wildlife. Not only was this great for my own personal knowledge, but it also helped me in my second year Ecology units. This shows how your placement, as long as it is relative, can be applied to your uni work.
Outside of uni these placements give you an idea of possible future career paths. Without my placement at a school last year I would never have thought of teaching, however after spending 3 very successful weeks there I am now thinking of doing a PGCE after uni and becoming a geography teacher. Placements can also help you decide if you like a certain career. Some people get placements in the exact thing they think they want to go into after uni, but after a summer placement they may realise it actually isn’t for them, but helps narrow down what they are interested in.
In all, there are many justifications for why you should do a placement. They give you valuable experience and skills that will make you stand out from many other candidates for jobs after uni, but also help to focus down on what you should do post-university. They are great opportunities and an important way to make your university experience different to everyone else’s.
By Louis Sherman