July 28, 2023

Why You Should Take on a Placement Year While at University

Should you take on a placement year while at university? In short, absolutely. But why? Luke explains below.

Luke began working for C+A Design while completing his final year in Architectural Technology at Sheffield Hallam University and continues to be an asset to the team. He writes about his experience of doing a placement year and staying in the industry whilst studying below.

For anyone debating the value of a placement year in Architectural Technology or similar, this article is for you. I will speak from my experience as somebody who decided to pursue a placement and then stay within the industry whilst studying for my final year at university.

A placement year is so important because the construction industry is much like any other industry in that experience is key. While a degree in your discipline of choice is a desirable achievement for any aspiring industry worker, universities simply cannot replicate real world, day-to-day industry experiences like a placement can. Completing your placement not only bolsters your employability but it also begins to form your network much earlier than if you just stayed at University. This is incredibly useful as, while on the surface the industry seems like an international, multifaceted juggernaut, it can actually be incredibly small in your immediate professional circle, where “everyone knows everyone”. This often means that people who are already actively working within or have experience in the industry may hear of, or be recommended for job opportunities before they hit the open market, solidifying the importance of building your network early.

Upon completing a placement, some students can be offered a permanent role to stay on at their current workplace or use their experience to secure a role elsewhere. If you do choose to go down this route, the wealth of knowledge that you can call upon to aid in your final year university projects, studies and assignments, is invaluable. As somebody who decided to explore a structurally challenging building in my final year, having access to industry veterans who were willing to share their thoughts and experience to better my project, was utilised more times than I care to admit. This, in tandem with proper engagement with the university curriculum, enabled me to finish my final year well and feel confident in the work I had produced. Without pulling from these resources, I don’t believe the same results would have been possible. However, don’t be afraid to explore other opportunities within the industry at the end of your placement if you feel that it can offer you experiences your placement provider could not. The early stage of your career is the ideal time to investigate how your skillset best fits into the industry.

After working full time during my placement year, I decided to take my final year of study part-time while working in practice alongside it. Elongating my university timescale felt like a bad idea at first as I just wanted to get out into the workplace properly again, but looking back, I’m so glad I did. Being able to slow down the pace of university while soaking in real-world experience, week on week in the workplace, made my final assignment more robust and subsequently, I achieved a higher overall grade because of it. Parallel to this was the fact that I then finished university with three years of relevant industry experience, which as previously discussed, is the key to success in any industry.


Have a question for Luke or want more information about his experience in the industry and studying? Use use the contact us page to get in touch.

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