Written by Yasmin
BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism
One of the things that made me come to BU was the emphasis on placements and the opportunity to fit them in whether it be for a year or for six weeks, to ensure I had some real working experience to add to my CV alongside my degree once I graduated. Whether you come to university knowing you’ll only want to do a short placement or change your mind for whatever reason before the time comes to commit to a year out, being required to complete at least a few weeks means you don’t miss out on experience if you don’t want to do a sandwich year.
Short placements can feel a lot more difficult to fit in around uni because you don’t get any time out to complete them unless you’re fitting them in over the holidays, and even then it can be more competitive to try and get something during a break. If you only want to find the odd week or two at a few different companies, these can come about in different ways to a more formal, long-term placement application. Here’s my experience with applying for and securing short placements, and how I managed to fit them around uni.
Planning in advance
As soon as you know you want to do a short placement, pre-planning is key. I would definitely recommend trying to get some done in the Summer between first and second year, even if it feels like you’re the only one worrying about placements at that point, because it takes so much pressure off later in your degree when things get more serious.
Some placements or companies also book up in advance, so know who you want to go to with plenty of time so you still have time to work there if they can’t accommodate you for months. Planning also applies to looking at who you want to work for, it gives you time to make some fallback plans if you can’t get your dream placement, and it allows you to organise how you’ll fit it around uni if you have to work during term time.
Other ways to find a short placement
Definitely use the usual ways of finding a placement, the usual job board websites and Linkedin like others use for a year-long placement, but there are other ways to network and ask for a week or two of work experience at a company. Use company websites to find those who work for the company, get their contact information and email some people in the areas you’re interested in working in asking if it’s possible to work there as part of your short placement for a bit.
Opportunities also arise on social media a lot in places other than the companies’ official accounts. Search for people who work in the company who could sometimes post job opportunities to a smaller audience that aren’t released elsewhere, search for companies or roles you like with words like short placement, internship and work experience. A friend of mine did a short placement at an international magazine because she followed an editor on Instagram who posted a last minute placement opportunity on their story after someone dropped out, so keep an eye out for these opportunities.
Balancing placement work and studying
The first thing to do is not worry if you end up having to do placement during the semester. A lot of people do it and lecturers are very understanding, so it won’t get in the way if you organise yourself well. As long as you inform your lecturers of when you’ll be away on placement so you can catch up later on or online, you’ll be able to plan when you can fit studying around your placement depending on how much uni work you have to do and how long you’re on placement for.
One thing to remember about the placement and your uni work is that you’ll have to complete some sort of log book, so just like the placement itself it’s important to not leave it until the last minute too. It’s best to get it done whilst you’re still at the company, probably on your last day so it’s fresh in the employer’s minds and the form is completed in person. If you’ve completed a few weeks of placement so early that you haven’t been shown or given a log book yet, ask your course leader or the placements team for one or for a rough idea of what they’ll want from your employer so you can at least get something for the time being and come back to fully completing it later.
Completing a placement, no matter how long for, is always so beneficial not just to enhance your time at university but to set you up for later in life whether it’s to show future employers that you have industry experience, or to get your foot in the door at a company you could go back to permanently when you’ve graduated. Hopefully this will help you manage to find, secure and complete all the requirements of a short placement.