Coming Back From a Work Placement
Hey you, Placement Student! You did what was unthinkable. Found a Work Placement, tirelessly worked there for a year, completed your 5000 words research project… Then you exhaled big, looked around – and suddenly realised that you are back at university. What’s going on? Why does everything look so different? Who are all these people? Do I need to work on coursework – again?!
…After an attempt to cope with the shock you are back to the library, trying to understand what to do with all this stuff and not to lose your mind in the process. Even if it feels awkward, you need to get back to your studies and start looking for graduate jobs or Masters programmes. No time to rest. Not much time for a proper adaptation either – you feel like you need to act now, and cold sweat appears on your forehead.
Sounds familiar? I bet it does! I feel you and I am here following the same path. Let’s think about what we, placement students can do not to get lost in the mess we got ourselves into.
Where are all my friends?!
The first thing you will notice when you are back are hundreds of unfamiliar faces. Most of your classmates are already working somewhere, undertaking Postgraduate studies or back to their home countries. You feel lonely, you don’t know who to talk to, group activities at the seminars make you shiver.
This lonely feeling is temporary. You have to imagine yourself being a first year student again. You were in a similar situation then and it didn’t prevent you from making incredible friends you are still in touch with. Don’t be afraid to talk to students after or before seminars and lectures, don’t sit alone, try to be proactive! Other people are actually interested in you and they would love to know more about a new person in the class. At least make an attempt not to avoid group activities – you will be surprised to realise how funny and absolutely lovely some of the people in your team are. Offer them to come and get some coffee after a class or sit in the library preparing for the next seminars together. Nothing unites students more than shared procrastination.
Still feeling lonely? Fellow students in the class don’t seem to bother? Not to worry! Lucky we are that there are DOZENS of societies in our university where you can find someone who can actually like exactly the things you like most. Whatever it is – latin dancing or football, debate club or Bible studies, LGBTQ+ or a Marketing Society – you will find like minded people who love to spend time together doing what they really like. And if you are tired of societies you have been part of in the last few years – why not explore something new? Maybe the Bhangra society will inspire you more than the Salsa one. What’s more all our societies belong to the University of Westminster Students’ Union (UWSU), your democratic organisation with Sabbatical Officers who are here to look after your Wellbeing.
Business Students and The Chamber of Horror
Here you are – surrounded by new friends, with a wide smile on your face. But look! What is everyone whispering about raising their eyes full of fear to the seminar leader?..
You have almost forgotten the horrifying sound of this word. But here you are, a student again, and the British Higher Education system hasn’t changed since you left to get some work experience. All the revision techniques are gone from your head, core textbooks look bigger than ever, and several courseworks are awaiting for you to bury yourself in the library. What should you do next?..
Guess what? Again – don’t panic.
The university has plenty of sources to help you with your studies. First of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help from both your classmates, seminar leaders and lecturers. They will definitely be happy to shine the light on what you need to do. Make sure to read all the module guides properly, if something is not clear – make sure to clarify it. You will soon realise that the tasks that you have been assigned are less scary than they sound.
Second of all, don’t forget about the library! There are librarians allocated to each major subjects, for example, Marketing or Accounting. They can help you with finding the right sources for your courseworks and assist with the literature review. Ask them to remind you how to use library search professionally, including all the databases University of Westminster students have access to. Make sure to familiarise yourself with the referencing system. Use the library space to make yourself comfortable while doing homework. Get a Study Buddy when it’s time to start the revision. You will be surprised how soon you will be back to consuming information at an enormous pace – the superpower any student who has ever drunk 5 cups of coffee in a row is familiar with.
Still lost and don’t know where to start?
Don’t be ashamed, there is no judgment here. Make sure that you ask for help. You should still have your personal tutor who you were allocated to on your second year. Don’t be shy, ask them to see you. If you have applied for a Mentoring Scheme, talk to your Mentor. Consider finding some peace of mind at yoga, meditation or mindfulness sessions. If it’s not enough, contact the Counselling Service.
Remember that you are not alone, and the University of Westminster has plenty of resources to help you cope with whatever is troubling you at the moment.
Now you feel more confident about your studies and your new friends making the revision process almost bearable. But what should you do next? As you are thinking about your future, it seems that more and more companies are closing applications for graduate positions, and deadlines for Masters Programs applications are getting closer and closer…
Well, it may be surprising but for you as a former placement student some things can be easier than for others. You have done placement search less than two years ago and you have skills in preparation of impressive applications, cover letters and CV. You have also done some interviews and assessment centers so it shouldn’t scare you that much too! If you don’t feel confident enough, contact Careers and Employability Service or book onto a Skills Academy via Engage. Don’t skip networking events. I would also recommend to check my blog on the placement search – some of the pieces of advice there can be relevant for you even now.
How do you feel now? Are you still battling the anxiety you got after coming back to the university? I genuinely hope not. Being a final year student can be hectic and scary, being a final year student coming back from a placement year – even more horrifying. However, you are not the first or the last person who experiences whatever you are experiencing now. I hope this little blog will make your journey easier, and you will enjoy your last year with the University as much as you can, living your student life to the full and not being afraid of what is ahead of you.