Returning to university after my placement year
Learn to treat your degree like a 9-5 job, if you know what’s good for you…
I’ve had a seemingly smooth transition back to the university life after my placement year at Arup in London. I’ve moved in to a 3-bedroom apartment with 2 friends who also went on an industrial placement year, so we’re all in the same boat. Our apartment building is conveniently located a 15 minute walk from the university, so my attendance at lectures has got off to a great start.
But this transition back to university hasn’t come without some tough realities. The first one being taking home homework. One of the greatest perks to working a 9–5 job (after the salary of course) is that – technically – when you leave work, you aren’t expected to take any work home with you. This is not the case at university. There’s always recommended reading to do, lab preparation to simulate and electronic boards to solder!
As mentioned above, one of the major benefits of going on an industrial placement is being able to earn a salary. So, returning to the bank of Mum and Dad isn’t easy and another reality to adjust back in to. But the placement year is a great time to save money to make the landing back to student life a little softer. It’s provided me with a great opportunity to put my budgeting and saving skills to the test in the ‘real’ World which will hopefully help in my final year at University.
We cannot forget the sporadic nature of a university timetable. Working 9-5 in a structured workplace environment seemed to make productivity easier to achieve. However, when you have a 1 hour lecture at 9am, a 30-minute tutor meeting at 4pm and a tutorial at 5pm, it becomes a lot harder to achieve the same level of productivity. You become tempted to fill the hours in-between with mindless chatter about which Netflix series to binge watch next. Truth is, we all know we should be using the gaps in our timetable to study.
So, how do you treat your degree like a 9-5?
Treating university like a 9-5 job may sound contradictory since I mentioned the bucket loads of homework and additional reading you’ll need to take home with you, but what I mean is, use all those hours between lectures and tutorials to do this homework and study. Be as productive as possible during the day so you can have a more relaxed evening. Challenge the status quo and don’t be the student that has to pull an all-nighter to meet all their deadlines; this is the biggest lesson I took home from my placement year.
- To do lists (to help you prioritise and plan your time)
- Calendar invites (so you remember all the important things coming up)
- Sticky notes (for an extra visual reminder)
In the working world, it is important to have strong organisational skills so you can stay on top of all your deadlines, meetings and deliverables. So even a casual invite to coffee can be translated in to a ‘coffee break’ calendar invite to keep your day organised and planned out. This tactic of planning your time through calendar invites is useful at University when managing the many different responsibilities in final year, as well as potentially, a part time job or even graduate job applications.
Apply industrial knowledge to your degree!
While I was working at Arup in the building services team, I learnt about power systems and the different requirements for generation. So, learning about generation in my power systems analysis course this semester is a lot more interesting and easier to understand. The exposure to different industry standard software, techniques and knowledge can help you stay ahead when you return to university.
In conclusion, going on an industrial placement year has prepared me for my final year. It has equipped me with the skills I need to tackle the demands of final year and made the final year material more interesting and applicable. I encourage anyone considering a placement year to go for it and good luck to my fellow final year students.