Tag Archives: by Hannah Phillips

Work or study placement – which is better?

It’s coming to the end of my time abroad and like all I am reflecting back on what an incredible year it has been, trying to cling on to every memory, whilst suppressing all feelings of dread at the prospect of final year. This year I have found myself in a slightly more unusual situation in that I was lucky enough to have a work placement for half of ‘placement year’ and study abroad for the other half. When choosing how I wanted to spend my placement year I had the internal battle of what I wanted to do. I had always thought of myself aiming for a 12 month work placement for the best company I could get. Yet after a bit of a rough time, a change of degree course, a reshuffle of my priorities and watching the experience of my peers come back from their placement year, I couldn’t shake from my mind what an amazing experience the Erasmus students seemed to be having!  I wanted to have the perceived adventure of Erasmus students and the supposed prestige and experience of a work placement – I wanted to have my cake and eat it.

But is it worth trying to eat the whole damn cake? Is it best to do both or is working simply better than studying and vice versa (Is the question on your lips after that tremendously long introduction).  Well, it all depends on what you want out of placement year and what factors are most important to you! Is it to travel & explore? Is improving your language key? Or do you have a target industry you want to work in and need specific experience of? Sadly there is no answer of what is better; it all depends on you and what is most important to you to gain from the year!

There are however a few main differences that I have experienced between work and study that may help you make your decision (or give you confidence in a decision you have already made)…

Study gives you more time to travel

Of course, the student schedule compared to a working week means you have more time and this makes travelling so much easier when studying. Not only can you explore the country your in but it gives you time to go further, take advantage of your location and visit surrounding countries. Being in such a central location in Austria, I found I travelled 10 times as much (even with 10 times less money). Being in another country with other exchange students means there is an abundance of people who also want to explore and to travel with! Something that can be difficult to organise on a work placement.

Working helps build your confidence

In my experience being on workplace improved my confidence and experience in a way my study placement didn’t. There is a big difference in presenting to your boss and colleges compared to a class of students.  Being in a professional environment and having responsibility over your work (I feel) really helped prepare me for my expectations of working life and gave me much more confidence in that I was able to survive in the corporate world. Going through the application process also gives a taster and trail run of the dreaded graduate job application process.

Study placements tend to offer more support

This obviously depends on your workplace or University, but for me the process of moving abroad when studying was MUCH easier than on work placement. Last June I arrived in Germany alone with my suitcase, no where to live and only a few property who had said yes to me viewing. Finding a place to live in another country when you cannot meet them (and you don’t want to let for the whole year) was a nightmare. Especially when you don’t know anyone where your moving – its daunting! You have to deal with all the paperwork/ bills/ forms and make your way to work alone – all in another language.

Compare that to my study experience in January, In which the university has links with a student accommodation which was sorted months before I arrived. The university even has a buddy program where you have a student you can direct your questions too who will pick you up from the airport and help you with your documents. Added to that they had guides for what needed to be done, guides for exploring the area, and even a 3 week orientation and cultural program to take you round the city, help you meet people and give you an intensive crash course in the language before the semester starts.

When you study you meet others from all over the world

Again this is quite obvious. Naturally as a student you will meet more similar aged and like minded people. But what I didn’t expect is how much I would learn about other cultures. I was able to make great friends and work with students from all over the world! Through living and being friends with people from another culture you learn so much about it.  It was much easier to make friends and meet new people than on work placement and the social side of Erasmus (I found) was incredible.

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Of course, these things all depend on where you work or study and not everyone’s experience will be the same as mine! If I had to choose, I think studying abroad was an unforgettable and amazing experience and an Erasmus experience (depending on where you go) can be the best time of your life. If you have the chance I would take it, as the experiences I had are something I will never get again  (where as working life, once it starts – never ends). Of course – it all depends on your priority and what you want out of your placement year! But my final piece of advice would be – Do your research before you apply somewhere, consider the social side and your enjoyment too, have a good think of what you want to achieve from your year – make sure you choose something which suits YOU! 🙂

All the best on your placement years!

Hannah

 

Its ok to be unsure!

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We don’t all know what we want to do with our lives. What is the “perfect career” choice? What will make us feel happy and fulfilled. If you do know – then good for you (*she says seething through her teeth*) but for some of us it feels like there are endless choices and quite frankly your career is one of the most important choices of all!

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Oh Vienna!

Austria’s capital, Vienna. The city of Mozart, Klimt, Waltzing and Weiner Schnitzel. But there is so much more to this amazing place. If your not sure where to study abroad ( lets face it, Austria is not a country top of everyone’s travel itinerary) I can only show you how incredible it is to study and live here as part of placement year. So here we go, these are my top reasons to study Vienna (grab a cup of tea, cause its a long one):

Culture

As much as I like Birmingham, its not quite the worlds cultural capital, which is something Vienna is overflowing with – who else can say they live a 5 minuet walk from a palace? The architecture, numerous churches, palaces and museums means there is always something to do or see each weekend. When else do you have the opportunity to watch a ballet, see an opera or listen to the Viennese or London philharmonic in one of the oldest concert halls in the world? (for only 3 euro a ticket). If your here in February you can even waltz at a masquerade ball inside the Hofberg palace! Time to stop being a typical student and get cultured!

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This is just their city hall ^

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Social Media Marketing – A day in the life

The weather is cold and snowy outside… So here is a bit of winter warmer, an overview from one of my typical working days of a summer in Germany.

7:30 – Monday morning, Wake up time. View out my window is the picturesque city of Konstanz, Germany. Getting dressed is super easy as there is no formal dress code at work- think Google style offices and company culture (we even have beanbags)  Right jeans and a t-shirt it is then!

8.20  – Time to leave for work. Ill grab a croissant at one of the many many bakeries in the city centre. Konstanz is situated right on lake Bodensee ( a holiday destination) so the summer bike ride to work along the lake is beautiful. It usually takes me about 20 minutes to bike over the border to Switzerland where the offices are located.

8.40 – I arrive at work. Grab myself a tea and head into the office (the sun is rising over the alps – well that’s not a bad view). I head to the office with some of the other interns as well as the rest of the international department.

9.00 – Time for today’s first meeting. Where we plan as a team the upcoming content for social media. We prep the upcoming schedule and analyse any new trends etc.

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Year Abroad Ideas: Making a Memory Book

Working hard or studying hard is a big part of placement year abroad, after time it can be easy to forget to appreciate what a truly amazing experience and adventure it is! Living abroad for a year means visiting new places, meeting new people, making new memories and inevitably taking a HELL of a lot of photographs  (All instagram-aholics raise your hand now).

Don’t get me wrong having your photos online is a great way to save them (and of course make everyone jealous of your fab new life overseas) but after visiting a friend who is a keen traveller I was inspired by the cute way she collects things from the places she has visited and saves them into a little scrapbook.

Saving your receipts, coasters, maps and leaflets of special memories and combining them with your pictures makes for a super personal way to remember your year abroad. Its something special to look back on, a way to appreciate the experiences you had and to remember the moments you might not have photos of.

It might take a little bit longer than changing your instagram filter, but the results are certainly worth it. So  grab that prit stick and get creative!

Germany memory book

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