Produced by Patricia Obawole
LLB (Hons) Law
So, apart from the *cough cough* award winning beach located right on the doorstep, one of the things that sold Bournemouth University for me was the fact that there was an opportunity for a 40-week placement (although it’s soon to be 30 weeks, which will give you that little bit more flexibility). This basically means in your third year of university, you ditch the lectures, seminars, workshops etc. and swap this for the typical 9 – 5 Monday to Friday. Welcome to the world of adulthood! But what is this you say? You don’t want to enter the word of adulthood where apparently it is socially unacceptable to wake up at 12pm or go out on a Tuesday night? Well, I’m here to say that the placement year has been one of my most exciting years here at BU and hopefully with a bit of guidance it will be for you too.
As you may know, I study Law at BU. For my placement I found myself at a rather niche engineering company in Weymouth and I was placed in the in-house legal department (basically legal-jargon for lawyers that work for a specific company). I thoroughly enjoyed my time within my team and within the company as a whole. This is not to say that at points it was not tough, but that at those points I had a fantastic support team both at my work and especially at BU. Each faculty has dedicated placement advisors who come and see you at your workplace just to make sure that you are getting as much out of your placement as you can, i.e. not about to spend 40 weeks solely perfecting the tea and coffee orders around the office!
So here are my top tips that you should bear in mind when on your placement:
- Expect the unexpected
Cliché as it may sound, it is very difficult to predict how your placement will go. For most of the students embarking on this rite of passage, this is the first ‘proper’ work experience. My only tip is to go with it and try new things. Don’t be afraid to meet new people just because they don’t fit the typical student profile. The placement year is a year where you discover a lot about yourself, namely how you still need the same amount of coffee to function!
- “Work-place etiquette”
I’m sure most of you have heard of this bizarre phrase, I can assure you I had no idea what this was until I actually got to my placement. Basically it is the idea that you show respect to everyone in the office, and most especially superiors. So butting into senior-management conversations is a no no! Also try not to be that one person that CCs the whole office into an email, it can be a bit embarrassing!!!
- Student finance is still a god-send!
Thank goodness! This little beauty is still sent straight into your account quarterly even if you’re on a salary. This won’t be as much as the full thing (it’s usually about 1/3 of what you normally get), but I’m not one to complain.
- Always think of your Placement Portfolio
Remember when I said you can ditch the whole seminar thing and assignments? Well, you do have to think about this pot that should constantly be simmering on a low heat on the back burner of your mind. Basically, it is a record of what you’ve been doing on your placement, not necessarily the nitty gritty stuff, but what skills you have developed along the way. Again this is just to make sure it’s worth your time!
- You might not get along with everyone
I’ve always known myself to be a person who likes their name to be proudly written on the Christmas card list of everyone I know. I don’t want to burst the bubble, but the reality might not be as straightforward as this. In a typical office there are bound to be personalities that don’t mix – which is fine, the real challenge is to be able to work together and still produce top-notch work. When you’re able to do this, you’ve already gained invaluable experience!
So there you have it, a quick guide to placements!
By Patricia Obawole