How to get the most out of your industry placement
If you are studying a T Level or one of our Transition courses, you should already be familiar with the concept of an extended work placement, known as an Industry Placement – a period of time built into your course, which you spend gaining valuable work experience with an employer linked to your subject area and chosen career path.
So, what’s in it for you?
Well, most of our employer partners have been working with The Manchester College for several years, providing these extended placements to level 2 and level 3 students, and there have been some brilliant success stories, with many offering paid employment, degree apprenticeships or remaining career mentors for the students they have hosted on placement.
The great thing about an industry placement is that, because of the length of time you spend with the employer (315 hours at t level or 105 at transition), you can really get to grips with their working practices, develop your employability skills, build a network of professional contacts and make a tangible contribution to the business you are placed at. You’ll gain hands-on industry experience and specialist knowledge to really complement what you are learning at College and bring it to life.
How to get the most out of your placement
Preparation is key. Read up on the organisation you will be working for (their website is a good place to start) and think of some questions you can ask about the company. This will show your interest and motivation when you meet the employer – especially if there is a selection process or interview involved.
Make sure you plan your travel route in advance and find out at least two ways/different modes of transport to get there so that you don’t arrive stressed on the first morning.
Check the company’s dress code in advance. Depending on your subject area, you will have T Level PPE or workwear. If you find yourself in an office situation, needing smart clothes, and don’t have any – College can help: Speak to one of the teams at the bottom of this article for further support.
Review your placement objectives on Grofar (you should have this on your phone) and with your placement coordinator, so you know what skills you need to focus on developing. Your coordinator will check in with you and your employer at regular intervals to support you and is the first point of contact for any issues.
It’s important to remember that this is a realistic working environment, and you are therefore expected to behave like an employee – phoning your workplace mentor or line manager if you are sick, and keeping to the company’s health and safety regulations which you will be fully inducted in during your first week. Basically, practise those 7 Deal behaviours students and staff sign up to at The Manchester College and show employers that you are responsible and reliable.
Via your Grofar app, keep a log-book; a kind of diary in which you record the tasks you do each day, what you learned and anything you feel could be improved. This acts as a digital portfolio that can be revisited to help you when applying for jobs in the future.
Always show a positive, cooperative attitude. If you finish the tasks you are set, show initiative and ask whether you can help someone else. Greet work colleagues with a smile and get to know them a little – they can all be good contacts in the future.
Just before your placement finishes, ask your employer mentor whether they will act as a referee for you on your CV and if so, get their full name and email address.
What to do afterwards…
Reflect on what skills you practised on placement, what tasks you carried out and make sure your logbook is complete. Then update your CV with the work experience you have gained, using your log-book to help you.
Successfully completing an industry placement, and showing enthusiasm and commitment to the process, really can open doors for you in future. Employers prefer candidates with plenty of work experience who know how to act in the workplace. Behavioural skills, such as the 7 identified in ‘The Deal’ are just as important, if not more, than the technical skills you learn in the classroom and only with both will you succeed in your career.
Read about some of the successes that our students have had from their Industry Placements.
If you have any questions about industry placements, you can contact your designated Employability & Partnership Coordinator directly or via firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Laura Theophanous who is the Employer Engagement Leader for T Levels and Transition at LTheophanous@tmc.ac.uk.