Doing a work placement as part of your degree courses can increase your employability skills and help you make vital industry links. Read what our students and staff have to say below.
Edward spent a year working with Shepreth Wildlife Park as a part of his BSc (Hons) Zoology degree.
"The ARU team helped me formalise the placement and helped get the paperwork in place. They also acted as a go-between with me and my placement tutor to ensure the tutor visits happened and advised me over my many questions whilst doing my placement report and learning logs. The key thing about working life is to ensure you are a reliable, professional and flexible member of the team with a positive, can-do attitude. There was a steep learning curve when I first started, and it took a few weeks before I was confident enough to use my initiative and perform to my strengths. My managers and colleagues at the zoo were very supportive and always spent time showing me how to do things but also encouraging me to try and succeed at new things. My biggest strength turned out to be presenting and communicating to park visitors about the animals which I did quite a lot of."
Studying BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering, Lauretta is excited to go out onto her placement and gain hands on experience.
"My course, is very practical and I noticed the apprenticeship students didn't find the coursework as hard because they already work in the industry. After my placement year I will have been in the industry and so will be able to relate the theory and the practical. The placements team help with writing an impressive CV and cover letter, forwarding these to the different companies, with your consent of course. They give you encouragement after that "no" and help you come to reality that not every company will take you on but you'll eventually get better at the next try. Doing mock interviews with a team member in preparation to your final interview boosts confidence as well."
Benjamin furthered his skills and knowledge that he learned BEng (Hons) Computer Science during his placement.
"First of all, undertaking a placement as part of a degree provides invaluable experience of the working world. I have developed my knowledge of key programming languages, Information Governance and it's policies, and understood the importance of usability in the field of computer science. When starting the placement, I had limited knowledge of C#, HTML and Java Script which was quickly put to the test through pair programming to identify and fix bugs. During the placement I have had the opportunity to develop software for the company in a range of areas. This includes changes to the Wordpress website, both factual and structural, modifying and adding functionality to the current suite of mobile applications, and adding in-app help. I believe that the skills I have developed during the 12 month placement are invaluable and will set me apart from other candidates when applying for jobs after graduation. My advice to anyone considering a sandwich degree/placement year is absolutely apply and you will see and develop these benefits for yourself."
Jessica undertook a year-long placement at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park as part of her BSc (Hons) Zoology degree.
“It is an amazing and enjoyable experience. Everybody here is welcoming and wants to help aid your education as much as possible. The more you learn, the more you can help and the more responsibility you will get.“
A student on BSc (Hons) Computer Networks, Martynas went on to work for Samsung after finishing his placement.
"The skills and knowledge I’ve acquired are priceless. From being intimidated by programming, to enjoying it to the fullest. It has opened many doors for me. I’ve matured professionally, boosted my soft skills immensely and gained a corporate character. I’ve made many new connections and life-long friends! I’ve also grew as a person – I started doing things that used to intimidate me, started leaving my comfort zone more often and got to explore the life in the “Silicon Valley of Europe” - Cambridge."
Sarah spent her placement year with GSK Consumer Healthcare as an Analytical Scientist, developing skills from her BSc (Hons) Forensic Science degree.
"Throughout the year I was able to develop many analytical and general laboratory skills through my work, which largely consisted of HPLC assays, stability testing (physical and analytical). method development, and method validation. From the beginning of the placement I was fully integrated into the team, not just treated as a student, and came to be trusted with taks which may have real impact for the category. The team I worked with were fully supportive of my development and there are many opportunities available if you ask for it, for example GC-MS was not used within my role, however I expressed an interest in learning more and received training sessions on it. The placement has been a great learning experience both in and outside of the role and I would fully recommend participating in a placement year.
Razvan and Alvin both help to support our placement students.
“Placements are an excellent mechanism through which students can obtain work experience, instantly putting them ahead of any graduate who lacks that. It exposes them to a rigid schedule, teams, customers, meetings and presentations. Fully engaging with their placement helps them grow as a professional and as an individual. It sets them up to succeed in a career of their choice!“
Alvin is Deputy Head of School for Life Sciences and has been involved with supporting our students on placements since we started the programme in 2013.
“The Sea Life placement has been incredibly successful, with the students learning a huge amount about the world of work, and themselves, as well as the specifics of being an Aquarist. Undoubtedly they have enjoyed it, and of the twelve students who have done it, and have also finished their final year undergraduate studies, four now have full-time jobs with Sea Life. So the placement programme is a great opportunity to help students move into relevant careers.“