As a second year Architectural Design and Technology student at Cardiff Met, we are required to complete a four-week work placement.
I started my adventure with work placements a bit earlier than my peers because I’d already completed one by the end of my first year. The company I worked with then gave me some contact information for an architectural practice who they thought I’d fit right in with for my second-year placement.
After some research I contacted the practice and got an interview date, and I’d secured my work placement by the end of the summer.
The construction industry is very hands-on. We can’t learn everything within our 3 short years at uni, and some of the things we learn might be done differently in a practice when we’re working there as graduates. That’s why placements are so important.
My placement helped me to better understand who I’m studying to become as a professional individual, and made me even more excited about the future than I already was. It also helped me with gaining new skills and knowledge (although the tutors did a great job at preparing me for the placement), and of course I gained so many contacts and even a few friendships from the experience.
My work placement grew my confidence and it even helped me get into a healthier lifestyle and routine that has stayed with me after the placement. The early mornings were tough, but when I’m a chartered Architectural Technologist and working in a practice I’ll have to get used to it – might as well start now!
Here are a few tips based on what I learned from my own placement:
- Start looking early. I think it’s really important to organise your placements as soon as possible; it shows that you are keen and determined to learn new things about the industry and how it works.
- Any experience is a good experience. Of course, the perfect scenario is having the chance to go where you really want to go, rather than settling for the only place to reply to your email, but even if you don’t get the placement you want, make the most of the one you get.
- Ask questions. This shows you are paying attention and that you actually care about what you get out of the placement. I know it can be difficult, but it’s one of many things I took from my work placement that have helped me in university and my everyday life.
- Get involved. Try to engage with the rest of the team as much as you feel comfortable with – I promise it will make your time on the placement a lot more ‘work hard, play hard’ rather than just ‘work hard’!
My placement was the most crucial part of my studies so far, and it helped me to confirm what I want to do after I graduate. It introduced me to the type of work and problems I will be dealing with in a way that university alone could not, with the chance to attend professional meetings and work with actual clients and budgets.