Guest Student Blog: Emma Newton talks why she chose to do a placement year

Emma recently graduated this July.

Towards the end of my first year at University, I began contemplating the different types of work experience I could embark on to further my chances of success in the law field. In researching my options, I attended the placements bootcamp to gain an insight into the benefits of completing a placement year. From the bootcamp alone, I felt that the skills that could be attained from securing a placement would be invaluable to me and I therefore began to consider my applications.

Prior to beginning my placement search, I was told to consider the process of applying and searching for roles as an additional 15 credit module, which provided me with a slight insight into the dedication that the process required. I therefore decided to start early and prepared my CV with support from the placements team over the summer; ensuring that it was of a high quality and was ready to be distributed alongside cover letters in the first term.

I worked closely with the placements team to learn the best way to formulate my cover letters; taking the key skills required from the job description and using relevant examples of my past experiences to demonstrate those skills. Perfecting my CV and my ability to write cover letters is a skill that I feel is utterly invaluable. Not only did it aid me in my search and application for a placement year, but it is a skill that will continue to assist me in the future when it comes to applying for graduate roles. Had I not secured a placement year, the skills I obtained from simply learning the application process would have made the time I spent applying entirely worthwhile.

In addition to the above, the application process also gave me an incredible amount of experience when it came to interviews and the skills required for those. Most of my applications assessed their candidates in different ways and I was therefore able to experience a wide variety of interview types including; video interviews, telephone interviews, face to face interviews and assessment centres. Throughout all of these differing methods, the placement team were on hand to offer mock interviews for all types, even at short notice. From both the mock and the real interviews, I felt that I gained a vital insight into the interview process and the skills required to succeed; especially with regards to formulating my responses, such as the STAR technique.

Overall, I felt that my placement search was one of the best things I have done for my employability. Not only did I secure a placement that will enable me to further my skillset, but the process itself has made me feel extremely confident in applying for graduate roles, or any future roles that I may strive for. The abundance of support offered by the placement team allowed me to feel confident in my own ability, whilst learning new techniques to better improve. If you are considering a placement year, I strongly recommend it. The time and dedication was most certainly worth it, and I will continue to use the skills I obtained for years to come.

Please note the module, Clinical Legal Education (Law placement), is not running during the 2020-21 academic year but will be back in 2021-22. However there will be placement opportunities advertised throughout the academic year which you can do alongside your degree.

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