Having been there myself, I know how daunting it can be to be faced with the uncertainty and panic of finding a company or organisation to carry out your placement year with. However, I cannot stress enough that this isn’t something you should rush, as realistically wherever you end up working is going to be the place that you will spend at least eight hours a day, five days a week, for the next year of your life.

So from one formerly stressed pre-placement student to another, here are a few tips to adhere to when approaching the dreaded placement year:

  1. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else around you

I am part of a lovely little friend group of four people within university and during the placement application process I was quite literally beside myself with stress, as I was still applying for a placement opportunity when all of my friends had already secured theirs. Don’t let this phase you like I did, as panicking never got me anywhere! It’s ok to take you time and research all of the opportunities available to you, just make sure you don’t take too much time and miss application deadlines.


2. Apply for a post you genuinely have an interest in

Don’t apply for any old placement position just because you are worried that you won’t end up getting one. Apply for a position you have an interest in and a passion for, as highlighted earlier; this position will be a huge part of the next year of your life, so make it count. If you end up in an area you aren’t interested in, realistically you aren’t going to take much away from an experience that should in fact be completely invaluable.


3. Be interview ready

The thought of an interview can be totally terrifying. So when you get that bitter sweet phone call asking you to come in for an interview, don’t fret. This is a good thing! This is your opportunity to really shine and hopefully begin your journey into the professional world of work. Just make sure to do your background research, study the job description and think real life examples that you can relate to the desired job roles. But most importantly smile and sell yourself, you wouldn’t be where you are today if you weren’t capable of nailing that dreaded placement interview.


4. Once you get the job you want, make the most of every opportunity

Once you get the call informing you that you have the job you wanted (and you will), the day you go through those doors into your new workplace, make sure to take advantage of every single opportunity you get. Say yes to everything! You are there to learn and gain as much knowledge as you can in order to equip you with tools and experience that you will carry with you throughout the rest of your professional life. Don’t sit in silence and always ask for help if you need it. You are there to learn and your fellow colleagues are there to help you, you really aren’t bothering them, I promise!


5. Most importantly , ENJOY YOURSELF

If you are anything like me, my year on placement was the best year of my working life so far. Placement isn’t all about work, work, work, but about building new relationships, making new friends, stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. Trust me, by the end of the year you’ll be on cloud nine and will wish that you didn’t have to go back to university as professional working life really is so exhilarating.


I hope this has helped relieve some pre-placement stress for someone out there. Always remember, you wouldn’t be where you are today, doing a degree and applying for a placement position if you weren’t capable of doing it. Believe in yourself and never ever sell yourself short!

Hannah O’Connor is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter at @hannarose94 and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-o-connor-0140b3150/