Management student Kamila Filipek is our resident student blogger. She is currently working her Year in Industry as a Student Experience Assistant on the Canterbury Campus and every month she writes about something affecting her life and the student community. Here, she reflects on her work placement within Kent Business School.
The decision to take on a placement as part of your degree can be daunting. Having to leave your university friends, putting yourself out of your comfort zone, and of course, getting up early!
Having now been in my placement role for 8 months, I thought it was a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned on my journey and how it has made me more employable for future jobs, so here goes…
Office life experience
Having exposure to a working environment has changed the person I am. I now know how a business operates, the dos and don’ts and the etiquette involved in office life. Things as simple as limiting chat at busy times, to offering to make a brew when someone looks incredibly flat out, offices are places to be considerate of others and mindful of your own plan for the day, which differs entirely to my experience of student life. I hope this sets me in good stead for future careers.
Try before you apply
In a year, I’ve learnt so much about working in Higher Education, Project Management and Marketing. The Year in Industry can be a chance to discover all aspects of a job and help you decide on a future career. You might THINK you’d love to work in accounting, for example, try it out and decide you’re destined for maths teaching.
To my surprise during my placement, I’ve found that I really enjoy working with data and going into my final year I will be pursuing a Data Analysis pathway as part of my degree. I doubt I would have chosen this route, if not for my year in industry! It is much easier to try something for a year without any further commitments than choosing to redirect a whole career in the future.
Putting things into practice
At university you will learn about theoretical applications of processes or ideas which are important; however, applying these on a day-to-day basis is very different and shows a real value to an employer. For example, during my second year at university, I learn about the theories of project management, which I have been able to apply when coordinating the KBS Graduation Receptions for 2020, 2021 and 2022 graduates.
A placement allows you to rapidly develop and acquire new skills under supervision. The skills you learn during the placement year can range from very specific technical expertise in a specific industry which will be beneficial if you want to stay within that industry. But also, lots of transferable skills which can be applied to any job and give you good talking points for competency-based questions during interviews. This is a great way to show employers how you stand out!
Rocking it at resilience
Problem-solving, adaptability, and resilience are invaluable skills needed to respond to change. These are particularly important if you wish to thrive in the workplace due to companies constantly changing to stay competitive. These skills show employers that you can develop strategies to cope with any setbacks and hence that you can be trusted to carry out tasks independently.
Throughout my placement year, there are many times I have had to adapt to new situations and learn new skills in the workplace. An example, of when I was able to demonstrate this was stepping in last minute for a colleague at an event and ensuring it ran smoothly, not something I’d ever have experienced before.
Although you might feel confident in a university setting, when it comes to a working environment it can be a whole different story. Acquiring skills during the year in the industry such as ability to communicate with colleagues or clients, practical skills, industry knowledge, and being responsible for high-importance tasks can boost your self-confidence.
Reflecting on the person I was when I started in comparison to now, I can see a massive difference in my self-confidence. This can be seen in both my personal and professional life! This also stems from the fact I now have a much better understanding of what I bring to the table but also in what areas I might struggle more in and where I might need some help.
Feeling all grown up!
During your year in the industry, you will also receive lots of support from both the university and managers. Hence, after graduating you won’t feel like you have just been pushed off into the deep end of adulting as you would have already experienced the working life.
Do you know what is available to you via the Careers and Employability Service? See here for more information and advice https://www.kent.ac.uk/ces