Over the last few weeks, we've been using the UKCES blog to highlight thoughts and reflections from some of the young people who worked with us this summer. As well as our longer-term Apprentices, graduate internship programmes and short-term work experience placements, UKCES also works with Sheffield Hallam University to offer sandwich degree student placements. As part of the placement, a new student joins us every September, spending a year working with us in an area of the organisation tied closely to their degree.
This week's Work Experience Wednesday blog comes from Sarah Marsh, a third year Marketing and Communications student at Sheffield Hallam who has just completed her year with us, and will be sadly missed! Take it away, Sarah...
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said:
Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who do go there think, 'Wait...no one else is here...why am I doing this?' And they leave, never to return.
That's why the extra mile is such a lonely place. That's also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.
Only 7.2% of full time students in higher education took up a placement year in 2009-2010 and as a trend, this number is in decline. UKCES’ Catch 16-24 report highlights that employers want candidates with relevant work experience, but young people are struggling to get this experience for much the same reason.
I’ve just finished my year on placement with UKCES as a Communications Assistant. It was part of my sandwich degree course in Marketing at Sheffield Hallam University. I remember teachers in Sixth Form drilling it into us that courses with placement years would help us secure jobs in the future, but only a handful of us listened. Most of those from my year at school have joined the yearly churn out of graduates and are now desperately trying to find jobs or gone traveling to avoid having to do just that.
Myself and the handful of others chose Steve Jobs’ ‘extra mile’ and went out in search of a work placement. During my time at the Commission, I have received a wealth of training and acquired skills I simply wouldn’t have without my placement year.
I have been given professional coaching for presentations and public speaking, can write a press release and lead a communications campaign. Learning and Development is strongly encouraged at UKCES, so I now have an array of courses under my belt too!
This year has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people both inside and outside of the organisation, my colleagues who have given so much of their time to help me, and business leaders such as Dame Fiona Kendrick (Chairwoman of Nestlé UK and Ireland). She even accepted my LinkedIn request!
I cannot stress enough how valuable this year has been for me, not only have I had training, met great people and achieved so much; but I have also learnt how to conduct myself and behave as a professional...not as a student. If you are reading this as an employer, I implore you to consider taking on a placement student, you will get as much out of it as I and other students do - as well as giving a young person vital work experience!
If, by any chance, you’re reading this as a student - seriously consider it. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort it could be the making of you. Going the extra mile can make all the difference to giving your career a kick start, it certainly didn't do Steve Jobs any harm!
More Work Experience Wednesday:
- Work Experience Wednesday - Clinton Johnson
- Work Experience Wednesday - Charlie Berry
- Work Experience Wednesday - Tom Deakin
- Work Experience Wednesday - Megan Blaney
UKCES publications on work experience: