I went to Aston knowing that everyone is encouraged to do a placement year, yet even towards the end of second year, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. Read our guest blogger Hannah Hine’s reasons why you should do a placement!

Hi my name is Hannah and I am currently doing a study abroad placement in France. I’d recommend a placement year to everyone – here’s 3 reasons why:

1. It can help you to distinguish yourself from other people when you apply for jobs

Employers value students who have undertaken a placement. You will have gained knowledge of the working world, developed new skills and adapted to a new culture (within your business or your new country) while becoming independent and mature. You will have made decisions for yourself, discovered how to work effectively and efficiently, while developing new skills with new software or business practices. You can use your experiences as examples to common interview questions: In what scenario have you been a team player? When have you shown management skills? How do you cope with stressful situations? I know that I can laugh with employers when I explain how I adapted to the French culture or how I overcame the language barrier when working in groups. In all honesty, a placement year is a valuable addition to your CV.

 2. You will expand your professional network and jumpstart your future career

Your placement could lead to a graduate job if you have impressed your managers throughout the year. If you are an asset to the team then your manager will remember this in the future. Alternatively, by studying abroad, you meet people from all over the world, who will hear of job opportunities across the globe that could interest you. You can use sites such as LinkedIn to connect with people that you meet so in the future you can use this professional network to stay in touch and remind them of career opportunities you discussed months or even years ago. Since arriving in France, I have made friends on my course who are native speakers and can help me with my CV and cover letters for job applications. They also know of internships that are available for me to apply for – from Paris to Montreal.

3. It may be the first time in your life you get the chance to earn a proper salary (and have an Erasmus grant to spend if you’re studying abroad!)

You’ll finally have some money, and you can treat yourself with it – some people choose to live in nice accommodation for the year or treat themselves to regular meals out, but ultimately most people try to save some of their money. A lot of people decide to travel if they have time in summer before final year, or even after university. If you work or study abroad, it is so easy (and cheap) to have weekends away, visiting local towns and cities. I have spent two of my last three weekends in Marseille and Geneva with new friends – as well as visiting old ones – I feel like I am on a mini gap year alongside my studies.

If you do decide to do a placement, you will be proving to yourself, your tutors (who most likely will write your first job reference when you leave Aston) and future employers that you are experienced, motivated and ambitious.