As a let say, “older” pupil (I was 21 when joining university and according to 18-year-olds that’s particularly retainment age) I was always against the idea of doing a sandwich year, it would mean I would be 25 when I graduated and at that age, my parents were married with their own house and stable jobs and my brother was well on his way to success in his chosen career, it terrified me that I would only be starting out in life at that age, knowing it could all go terribly wrong and I’d end living back home with my parents working a till in some shoe shop again. I was also so fed up with education. Here’s a little context;
I finished high school at 16 with no idea what I wanted to do with my life, the only thing that I ever really shown any interest in was animals, so I decided to study an Animal Care course at my local college, there it dawned on me that while I loved animals, I hated the smell of a farm, hated my clothes being covered in fur 24/7 and with hay fever me and animal bedding did not get on that well. So after spending two years of my life there, I decided a chance of course was needed, I then went to study general IT at another college, spending another three years there. By this time I was done with having no money, taking work home with me and being grading on my ability to read and write.
However one amazing tutor told me I had to go to university, he didn’t really give me choice and that was that I was off to university. So quite frankly I was ready to end my student life and live in the real world! So what changed? Well, one major factor were the people I met at university, these people became my family away from family and now I couldn’t imagine having them not in my life, the idea of graduating and not having them next to me was horrible and simply wrong my head and with all of them wanting to do place, it became a reality that that might happen.
Another factor was my University themselves, they hammered home how a degree while important wasn’t much without experience to support it, you could be the best in the classroom but under the stress of the workplace crumble. So I decided to take the leap and go off and get myself a placement job in the digital industry for a year and funnily enough, I ended up working for the company I wanted to work for once I graduated.
Once I started I realized that the university wasn’t lying and real life is much different to the classroom life that I’ve known my whole life, I suddenly had responsibilities and if I messed up, it wouldn’t just be me I was letting down but my team, my boss, and the company! So I quickly learned how I handle big tasks under a huge amount of stress and pressure, something I know I would have never learned inside of University. The second thing, money! For the first time in my life, I had a pretty decent income and boy did I spend a lot of it. I had this whole plan in my head of saving it all and having a nice pillow for myself at the end of my studies, while I’ve saved up some a lot of it has been blown on quite frankly, nothing of importance, boys, tech, food, drink. So placement year has taught me how to budget and realize that broke doesn’t know having a big fat zero in your bank but having enough to just get by and not be counting the pennies.
One of the main things placement has taught me is that working with people is different than meeting them while at School, College orUniversity, they might not be people you would normally choose to spend your time with but you’re going to have to because it’s not your choice. Don’t get me wrong I’ve been so lucky with the people I’ve got to work with 99% of them are fantastic and the most talented people that I’ve ever met but like Hannah Montana once said nobody is perfect, including me and spending 7 hours a day with the same people some of them are bound to do something that will annoy or upset you, but that is life and how you deal with that is important. I’ve learned how to deal with that and that’s given me a huge boost for my later career.
The best thing I’ve learned while at placement is you’re not the best and it’s ok not to be. Now don’t get me wrong I already knew this but because I had a head start on a lot of my friends in university in our chosen field, it was sometimes quite easy to feel cocky about knowing more about a certain subject and I might have complained but I quite liked them asking me for help. But then Placement came along and slapped me in the face, I was suddenly working with some of the best people in the industry, people who have years of knowledge and experience behind them, knocking my knowledge out of the park but that’s ok, it’s ok not to know everything and its great to learn from the best, I’ve learnt so much more in the last 10 months than I ever have during my time in education and it’s priceless.