This week’s post comes from Eliska Dlabolova, our placement student this year who has been invaluable at both the Emm Lane Campus and City Campus Careers services. Here she tells us about her application process and the value of her placement…
So, how did I get to my placement?
Honestly, I am still not quite sure. This time last year I had no idea what to do, and even though I theoretically knew that I wanted to get a placement, but after few failed applications I was slowly giving up on the prospect of ever getting one. As a law student, I only ever thought of getting a placement in my field and when that was not working out I finally went to get a bit of help and see a career consultant (quite late in the year, I might add). I was kind of aware that the careers services did exist, but always just took them as the place where people went to check their CV for part-time jobs and such. Wrong, but I will get to that later.
So there I was, kind if giving up on the prospect of getting a placement, when the career consultant helped me realise that I could try to get a placement in a different field than law. After all, some working experience is always useful, even when it is not strictly from my field of study. I am still not quite sure why I did not think of that myself, or realise it earlier, because of course it makes sense. Transferrable skills are great and in the end, when you have spent a year gaining them, that’s what matters, because a CV stating that you did work a year in a professional environment is more impressive than a CV only stating that you have some great grades from specific degrees targeting your dream job.
Anyways, back to the part when I almost gave up on applying. It was late in the year and to top it all off I realised that I don’t really want to be a lawyer as I originally thought. So I decided to try a broader field of opportunities which did not require a specific degree to apply. Thankfully, most local businesses actually advertise their placement offers in the spring, so I was able to apply to some. One of them was the position at the University of Bradford Career Services, because I just started to discover that yes, Careers are there and they are quite useful, so I thought, “when you don’t know what to do with your career in general, why not spend a year surrounded by career advisors and hope for some inspiration?”
Fast forward a few months and there I was, actually starting my placement at the Career & Employability Services. When I said the thing about Careers only being a place to check your CV? I quickly realised it is so much more than that. I got to know the people, the resources available to me as a student and the opportunities we have. I got the inside scoop into the life at the university, not only from the student perspective and I had the real 9 to 5 experience.
Few months into my placement I realised how underused the Career Service is. Honestly, now when I know, that there is a team of people ready to help with your future job, help to guide you to get that job, help you get these opportunities, placements, study abroad… The list goes on. I myself plan on visiting a lot more next year.
Now here I am, almost eight months into my placement – time flies. I am still not 100% sure what I want to do with my future, but I know that I am glad that I chose to do this experience, because when else am I going to get a chance like this when not at the University? I am more certain about which way to go next and I am more confident in all the skills I list on my CV, now that I have spent a year practising them in real life. All of the “communication, time-management and organisational skills”, I actually do believe I have them now and I have the experience to show for it.
To conclude, you don’t have to be the most career driven and confident student around to do your placement year. Of course it is great to be like that and have your life sorted out, God knows I wish I did, but it is important to know that you can be in a situation like me and use it to your advantage, use it to figure out what to do with yourself and get some really valuable experience, get some extra time before real life kicks in, some extra money and meet some great people.