Guest blog by Emily Johnsen, former placement year student in Careers and Placements
So you’ve been mulling on the idea of a placement year, but aren’t sure if you’re ready to enter the “real world” just quite yet? Or you’ve secured a placement but are now in a whirlpool of excitement and nerves? I know how you feel. This time a few years ago I was in your exact shoes but alas, I completed my placement and had one of the best years of my life!
I study Psychology in Education and after being involved in societies, student calling and my department quite a fair bit during my first two years at uni, I thought it was time that I develop these skills further by undertaking a placement year. Luckily for me, Careers and Placements like to practice what they preach and a brand new role became available in their Volunteering and Enterprise team – “Community Events Coordinator”.
I was a little hesitant to apply at first as this role wasn’t really related to my degree. However after getting my CV and cover letter reviewed, I took the risk and submitted my application during one of my research methods lectures (sorry Jennifer!). I quickly heard back from the team and after a 20 minute interview, the job was mine!
Throughout my time in the Volunteering and Enterprise team, I was able to collaborate with over 60 charities, non-profit organisations and public services in York to develop exclusive and exciting opportunities for students like yourself. This could be anything from presenting ancient artifacts in the Jorvik Viking Centre, to helping tackle crime with North Yorkshire Police.
Specifically, I took the lead in developing brand new one-off volunteering activities; the most notable being a blustery beach clean with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Along a 100m stretch, volunteers collected over 4kg of rubbish including 2000 – 3000 tiny pieces of paraffine! This compound is toxic to dogs if ingested, so we helped to conserve creatures both on land and sea.
One of my highlights of the year was the Student Volunteering Awards. Hearing the wonderful stories of volunteers tackling loneliness, mental health and bringing the arts back into the curriculum really did show me the power of students. The passion and positivity in that room will stay with me forever and it really did show the incredible impact you can have during your time in York.
I could never imagine the year that unfolded when I sent my acceptance letter to my manager. I also never imagined making lifelong friends, growing in confidence and being so inspired by this incredible city. I know you might be scared of applying, or feeling disheartened if you haven’t been successful yet, but keep going. You will find a placement that excites you and if not, there’s so many other amazing opportunities to get involved in, including volunteering. Make the most of your time at uni and good luck!