At Christmas time, 2012 I was halfway through my second year of University and facing a tough decision: “should I do a placement year, or not?”
At Christmas time, 2012 I was halfway through my second year of University and facing a tough decision: “should I do a placement year, or not?” My University had been recommending that everyone take placements to gain experience and vital skills.
While I was fairly sure that that I wanted to do a placement, I was being a little bit naïve about how beneficial it would actually be. At the time, I remember thinking that I had too much University work to justify applying for placements as well. The thought of entering the real world of working 9-5 was also quite intimidating, and off-putting for me. The easy option was to not do a placement, but eventually I decided it was worth putting in the effort and applying. I was accepted for a Front-End Web Developer position at Simpleweb.
In the weeks before I was due to start my placement, I was nervous but at the same time excited. I had no idea what to expect. I started working at Simpleweb on the 2nd September 2013. Shortly after starting, I realised the fear of working in ‘the real world’ is just a normal psychological emotion, which everyone experiences when starting a new job.
Working in the ‘real world’
Working in ‘the real world’ is actually really cool (or at least, working at Simpleweb is!), and has loads of benefits. Simpleweb have an amazing team of talented individuals, who are always happy to share their knowledge, advice and opinions. Working with such a welcoming team made it easy to settle in and on the second day of my placement, I was already doing hands on work, and felt like a real part of the team. Making design improvements and adding functionality to the support section of one of our main projects, Contactzilla; with friendly, helpful mentors working with me, was a great way to start.
My placement has been more hands on than University from day one, with new, interesting projects almost every week. One of the biggest projects I’ve had the chance to work on during the first four months of my placement is redesigning Simpleweb’s main website while adhering to a strict brand style guide. I feel privileged to have been working on such a large scale job, after working here for such a short amount of time. I guess this is one perk of working in a (relatively) small company.
“My placement has helped me develop certain essential skills, helping me become more confident, and more responsible.”
What University can’t teach you
I have noticed that there’s certain things that University, and exams, can’t teach you.
My placement has helped me develop certain essential skills, helping me become more confident, and more responsible. These skills have been developed through working with real clients, on real projects, within a team of professionals (as opposed to other students), in a real work environment.
Simpleweb have a really cool way of teaching their employees about new web technologies. Sometimes on Fridays we all sit down with a beer, and someone will casually talk about an interesting new piece of web tech. Some of my co-workers are also involved in hosting events, which is useful for building connections & meeting likeminded people.
If you’re in a similar situation and are trying to decide whether to do a placement, my advice is to accept the challenge, and do it. Everyone says how good placements are, and it’s true, you won’t regret it. Securing my job offer was definitely worth the extra work I put in during my second year of University.