With the jobs market becoming more and more competitive it is worthwhile doing anything that will give you a head start on the pack all looking for a job. Taking a work placement is one of those things.
More and more employers are looking for experience as well as academic credentials. A work placement offers you the chance to gain valuable experience spending time working for an employer and carrying out duties or tasks as any other employee of the company would.
Arguably the information gained and skills learned whilst on a work placement can be as important as anything you will have learned in education and it can be invaluable to entering and progressing into your chosen career.
Work placements are useful at any point during you education and the more you undertake the more skills you will acquire and the more impressive your CV will look to a prospective employer.
Adding impressive things to your CV is not the only reason to undertake a work placement. They are great opportunities to speak directly to people who are already doing the job within their working environment. Their insider information on the job will give you a greater understanding of what it entails.
Work placements can also be used as a kind of taster session for your chosen career where you can weigh up the pros and cons and consider whether that job is for you.
Work placements are usually voluntary and as such are unpaid.
At some universities or colleges work placements are offered as part of your course. This might mean that some of your grades are dependent on tasks completed for the employer which you are on a placement with.
In higher education there is an option of doing a sandwich course where your studies will be "sandwiched" around a work placement which often last a full year. This kind of course is ideal for matching academic learning with hands on experience on the job.
Most placements undertaken as part of a sandwich course are paid where most are unpaid, although in many cases you may get your expenses such as travel covered by the company.
It is worth remembering though that the experience gained on a work placement will be much more valuable to you in the long run than short-term cash.
It makes sense to look for a placement in the area of work you are looking to enter into and you should consider the quality of the placement being offered.
Good quality work placements usually offer set objectives for you to achieve and provides an appraisal or other feedback at the end.
They may also provide a record of your achievements and how your skills have developed. Some may also recognise your achievements with a certificate.