Some psychology degrees offer university students the chance to do a Placement Year giving you a chance to get a year of work experience. In this Careers In Psychology podcast episode, you’ll learn what is a psychology placement year and what are the benefits of doing a year in industry? If you’re a present or future university psychology student, this will be an invaluable podcast episode for you and your future.
What Is A Psychology Placement Year And What Are The Benefits?
I know that universities never explain what a placement is very well, so I want to explain it now.
A placement/ placement year is a year of work experience between your second and third year of university where you work in a certain setting or place for at least 30 weeks and it always has something to do with your degree.
For instance, some examples of a psychology placement would be:
· Working In A Mental Health Service, like the UK’s NHS.
· Doing psychology research at a university.
· Working in a Human Resource department (for business psychology students).
There are plenty more settings and environments that you can work in as part of your placement.
But you all need to remember is a psychology placement, is a year (or 30 weeks) of psychology work experience.
Which is brilliant for the reasons I’ll mention in a moment, but I want to add that there will be some coursework as part of your placement.
In my experience, there are two main pieces of coursework, a series of reflections that get you to reflect on what you’ve learnt, what you want to learn and how your placement is helping your personal and professional development.
This is why this book is a series of reflections because it is an expanded version of my coursework, but of course the really honest reflections, I will not be sending to the university. That’s for you.
Then the other part of your coursework will be some sort of research report that you have to write.
Now I know a lot of students (including me at first) hated this, but this is actually great and it gives us a massive advantage over other students. For the sole reason that when we go into our final year we would have had an extra year of practicing how to conduct and write research to a high level.
Meaning our dissertation should be easier because we could have extra experience on researching and writing up a professional report.
As well as another great thing about placement coursework is that it’s pass or fail, meaning there is no harsh grade that could influence your final degree marks.
In addition, you might have to do a poster presentation on your placement that explains what it was like, what you learnt and more. That is a piece of my coursework but because I’m not at the stage yet I’m not including it here as a major piece of coursework.
Of course, depending on your university, you might have other pieces of coursework or there might be slight variations in what I have explained, but as with everything in this book, this is my experience as a placement student.
What Are The Benefits of Doing A Placement?
In case you bought this book to investigate placement years as an option or you know you want to do one, but you want to learn more. For the rest of the chapter, I’m going to be explaining the great benefits of placement opportunities.
So this is where I can be very honest because the massive problem with university is they teach you all the theory and a LOT of practical things with essays, assignments and exams (that you never do in the real-world).
But they never ever give you real world experience and that is the downfall of many degrees.
For example, when I choose to go to university, I knew I was only going to do a “real” degree and by that I mean I was only going to do a degree that had a job at the end of it.
Meaning there was a job that only I could get because I had a degree in the subject.
This is why I choose psychology because you cannot get a job in psychology without a degree. And the exact same goes for subjects like medicine, Law, all the sciences and more.
However, even though I choose a degree that means I wouldn’t have to “fight” off non-graduates for a job. All psychology students will have to compete with each other the jobs and postgraduate opportunities.
As after you get your degree, you are about one in thousands with the exact same degree.
So what could help you make yourself more attractive to these employers and universities?
Everyone wants experience these days and that is the massive benefit you can get from a placement. Since placements will allow you to work in the real world, develop new skills and learn things that the classroom doesn’t teach you.
Because since I started my placement, I’ve learnt more about certain modern topics that the psychology classroom won’t teach you and my academic writing has improved drastically.
Which as we all know, university just presumes you can write academically.
Additionally, another great benefit of placements is you can use them as testers. As you can go on placement to somewhere and test out how you feel about the setting and if you can see yourself working there in the future.
For example, you might think you love working in a child mental health setting as part of your clinical psychology degree. But when it comes to your placement and you work there, you realise you hate it and you vow never to work in this setting again.
As you used your placement to find out what you liked and didn’t like so you can avoid making the same mistake with your “real-world” job in the future. And as we can guess and probably know, it’s a lot harder to suddenly change your mind and change jobs in the real-world.
So it’s best to make a “mistake” in your choosing of jobs now than in the future when you could potentially be stuck with your chosen setting for longer than you want.
Overall, I do actively encourage everyone to do a placement degree if they can because it can give you amazing work experience that will help you with the job market after university.
Of course, having a placement and work experience doesn’t guarantee anything, but it can help. And we all need that.
But why did I choose a placement?
I really hope you enjoyed today’s social psychology podcast episode.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Year In Psychology: A Psychology Student’s Guide To Placement Years, Working In Academia And More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at https://www.payhip.com/connorwhiteley
Have a great day.
Careers In Psychology Reference
Whiteley, C. (2023) Year In Psychology: A Psychology Student’s Guide To Placement Years, Working In Academia And More. CGD Publishing. England.
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