In the next 6 days, I’m due to travel over 700 miles on the trains to get to two interviews and back home again. One is in Hertfordshire, with the other being in the North of Wales- both of these interviews are for year long placements that would defer my third year of uni to September 2018.
Despite not having been offered the position of a placement yet, I have learnt a great deal from the process alone such as finding I am more willing to take risks than I previously thought I was.
The majority of the risk from placements relates to housing and accommodation. The reason for this is that at university, at Lincoln at least, it is encouraged to have accommodation for the following year signed for by Christmas and move in by Summer, normally around July or August. Yet the vast majority of students will not have secured a placement until after the new year. This creates the scenario where many students who drop out of finding a placement will do shortly after the new year as the pressures to find accommodation increasingly rise. For students who sign for accommodation before finding their placement are then burdened with finding somebody to take over their contract or risk paying for accommodation they won’t be living in. For some people, this can be very difficult.
For many people I know who have been searching for placements, the signing of a housing contract is symbolic for their search for a placement being over, but for some, they signed for and subsequently found somebody to take over their contract upon finding a placement. But for many, there are a series of time-based dilemmas between university and a placement, and it is very unclear which the best approach is- if there is one.
It is 1st August tomorrow and many students will be moving into their houses for the next year of study, however I am yet to sign for any accommodation for the year in order to keep me focused on my placement search. In the current landscape, it is harder to find somebody to take over a contract and also the majority of people have started their placements so there are much fewer available. This is a completely different landscape to that at the start of the year or before the new year. Unfortunately, the time-period in which finding a placement is healthiest is the time that I was complacent.
I’ve been told in the past that I’ll learn from my mistakes more than from anything I’ll achieve and the placement process is definitely testament to that. Placement were offered in abundance when I was putting in much less effort than I should have done, and now, when I have little over a month to find one or return to uni this September is the time when I am putting in a significant amount of effort to make up for the mistake I made at the start of the academic year.
In order to compensate for my complacency in the past, I am taking a lot of risks in term of accommodation. Unlike the majority of students, I’m unable to go home over Summer, which creates more problems for accommodation for me. Because of this, I have a storage locker which has almost all of my possessions and I moved into courts on a rolling, month-by-month contract. Courts is exclusively for first year students during term-time but fortunately during the summer, when everybody has gone home, they are available to move into for remaining students.
I’m not complaining about the placement process or am I claiming that it is unfair on students such as myself. The scenario I find myself in is of my own accord. All other students I know have either started their placements or ended their search a few months ago. I could have ended my search and found accommodation from the summer to next year and prepared myself for my final year of University. Instead I am choosing to continue to search for a placement, and I am more determined than I was at the start of the year.
I am still searching for a placement because this late for a number of reasons, many relate to personal development and wanting to commit my time to companies I share the same values with. But since I have committed so much of my time to the search, I am determined that the risk I have taken by not finding accommodation at university will pay off.
I’m hoping I have prepared enough for these interviews but I’ll have plenty of time to go over notes on the train anyway. Both of these positions are at respectable organisations and the roles themselves both seem highly rewarding and the sort of thing I’d love doing. Hopefully, my wait will pay off and in a months time I’ll be working rather than studying!