As a university student you will frequently hear people talking about internships and placements. Sometimes, it’s hard to understand their importance and people don’t always appreciate how much an internship can help you stand out when applying to jobs in the future.

As a student currently doing my placement year completing an internship in online marketing in Amsterdam, I am here to tell you why you should consider this option, even if it is remote!

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I think we are all aware of the current job market and the impacts of the coronavirus on it. It is, therefore, more important than ever to make sure your CV gives you a competitive edge and helps you stand out from other applicants.

A year’s work experience on placement has been proven to boost your employability when you graduate. It shows employers that you are driven, proactive and sets you apart from your fellow students. Qualifications and skills solely acquired during your time at university are now viewed as insufficient by many organisations who increasingly demand work experience as a prerequisite for employment.

Not only does a placement boost your employability on paper but it also helps you prepare for the difficult task of applying for jobs. Applying for a placement is therefore a great opportunity to gain experience in the application process. You can use sites like StudentJob UK to find a variety of internships, ranging from remote internships, internships within the UK and even jobs abroad. Writing motivational letters/cover letters, learning interview techniques and polishing your personal brand are all lifelong skills that you can hone when applying for placements.

Landing work placements is hard. There will often be hundreds of candidates applying for one or two vacancies. The process is, therefore, a great introduction into the competitive world of work and a great way to learn how to process rejection and remain motivated.

Practical learning

You go to university to learn, right? I can guarantee you that you will learn more halfway through your placement year than you would in your first two years of lectures.

Lectures are great but don’t really give you the opportunity to put into practice everything you are learning. You probably are slumped at the back of the lecture hall half asleep, hungover and listening to a professor drone on about different topics related to your course. You are probably wishing you stayed in bed.

I can speak from my own experience. I am studying International Business and Management and I am currently in my placement year (third year). However, it wasn’t until I actually started my placement that I could put into practice everything I have learnt. Not only has my placement taught me so much but it has also deepened my understanding of the content I have already learnt. Within a week of my placement, I was sending out emails to thousands of candidates nationwide, maintaining StudentJob UK’s social media channels for the UK and brainstorming various marketing ideas!

Choosing to do a placement means choosing to ‘learn by doing’ and you can guarantee it is all relevant and transferable. By jumping in at the deep end, you get immersed in company life and pick up essential skills along the way.

Pursue something new

Knowing that there are plenty of work placement opportunities available out there and that in the worst-case scenario you can return to the university for the third year without much hassle. It is, therefore, a chance to pursue the job of your dreams.

Trying something new is also a great opportunity to gain experience in a variety of different sectors. By completing an internship, you may find out what you want to do in the future or, equally, you may find out what you don’t want to do. If it turns out that you want to pursue a career connected with your placement you will have gained vulnerable experiences and knowledge of the sector and acquired tools which will help you when applying for jobs in the future. And if you decide it wasn’t for you, you will still have gained valuable experiences that you can mention when applying to other jobs.

Earn money

This is an obvious one. Most placements are paid, which should encourage you, being a student, to do one.

Glassdoor, the job comparison site, estimates the average work placement salary in the UK is GBP 18,000. For most coming off a student loan and part-time work this is very attractive. Some students in fields such as finance could even earn up to GBP 25,000. However, not all placements will be highly paid and some may be voluntary. And if you are looking to do an internship abroad (like me) don’t expect an amazing salary.

Don’t be afraid because even at the low-end money should not be a problem. While you are still registered as a student it is possible to apply for a maintenance loan to help cover the bills. However, it is always extremely important to budget your money and you can find a variety of tips on how to do so here.

Assess options

I briefly mentioned this earlier, but a year out gives you the chance to evaluate your career options and narrow your focus onto a field that you know you would like to pursue. A placement is useful even if only to help you discover that it is not the job or the field you would like to work in. This could save a couple of years at the start of your career as you try to get a foothold.

Marcia Windsor Waite is currently a student at Aston Business School, studying International Business and Management. As part of her degree, she is completing a yearlong Online Marketing/SEO internship for StudentJob UK in Amsterdam.