Careers Service


Common questions and concerns

Will I have any real responsibility on a placement?

Yes a placement is a real job. You will have a job description, a contract from the company and most likely objectives to achieve during your time there.

Employers will be paying your salary so they will want to see a ‘ROI’ (Return On Investment) however they will also understand you will need training and support during this period. This is something you can explore more at the interview stage.

A placement year of 8-12 months allows you to work across projects for a long period of time and you also get to see the impact of your work which you don’t always get with shorter placements or summer internships.

Will there be other placement students at the company?

Some companies take on a high number of placement students (over 100!); many will work across a range of different projects, locations and services though so you may not meet everyone! For other companies you may be their only placement student. This is something you can explore at interview. Most companies have clear induction plans for new starters and because they want to make sure you have a positive experience will look to add in networking and meeting opportunities for colleagues.

For some students returning from placement, meeting people from more diverse backgrounds was a real benefit to their experience and they stated they wouldn’t have necessarily wanted to be with a lot of students.

If I choose to live away from Manchester how will I find accommodation?

Many companies that take on a high number of placement students are often able to help with arranging accommodation and flat shares, otherwise there are a number of short-term lets websites or homestays that you could investigate. Moving into a new area may feel daunting but many students say this was one of the best things they could have done and that it pushed them out of their comfort zone. For placements overseas, please speak to your course placement lead /placement provider as some accommodation may be provided as part of the placement offer.

If I do a placement year I won’t know anyone when I return to my final year?

There are a couple of things to consider here, the benefits of opting to do a placement are considerable. You are more likely to be shortlisted, fast-tracked or even offered a job at your placement provider, but even if you aren’t or don’t want to take this up, returning to University with 12 months professional experience on your CV will ensure you are attractive to employers. The skills developed during a placement year including timekeeping, workload management and independent learning will support your final year study.

In 2018/2019 1001 students opted to take a Placement Year, Study Abroad or Erasmus Year from The University of Manchester. Most courses host a return to University meeting for their placement students where you will have the opportunity to meet peers who have also been on placement.

Joining a new cohort of students in the final year further helps prepare you for the ‘World of Work’ where you are often required to work within teams of people you don’t know.

How will a placement year develop my skills?

Working in a professional work environment develops soft skills (confidence, communication, team working, decision making etc.) but also gaining an understanding of how businesses work is of great benefit and will support you in future job applications. Just being confident on how the phone system might work, knowledge of HR processes and having practical experience of different functions of businesses will make you stand out in applications and interviews.

Will I have contact with the University whilst on placement and how will my placement be assessed?

Your course placement lead will advise you on expected contact during your Placement Year and also how this will be assessed.

How easy will it be settling back into University life?

Returning students are often given additional support in their first few weeks returning to University and there are some ‘Welcome Back’ events (there might even be pizza!) The Careers Service often run workshops around this time helping you translate your experience and the new skills developed in your placement year into CV Gold!

Many placement returners have commented that it was beneficial having worked in a more structured environment so they could apply this to their studies in their final year which they believed helped them achieve a higher grade. Making change to a routine will always be disruptive for a period but how you approach this is key and the University can support you. Employers look for adaptability and dealing with ambiguity in candidates and this is a great way to be able to demonstrate these skills!

For my placement, the company didn’t provide accommodation however it did organise placement students based on their location in a Facebook group. This was how I started speaking to my eventual flatmates. In the bigger cities in the UK there is lots of student/ young professional housing for a relatively cheap price. Sam, Bsc Biology with Industrial Experience, Unilever