Why you might want to do a Work Placement on a Year Abroad
Just one of the many photos I took of a beach in Mauritius… (Image credits: from my own personal collection)
If you’re looking to study at Warwick, or are planning a Year Abroad, you might already be aware of the options that are available (subject to COVID-19, of course): Study, Work, or British Council. Studying and working as a British Council Assistant are pretty self-explanatory, and most people go for these two – but you might want to reconsider after reading this.
I did a work placement at a French newspaper (L’Express) in Mauritius, where I have family. It was a completely unique experience – not just because I was in another country, far away from home (coming back wasn’t an option because the time and money it would take wasn’t worth it), with a different culture (yes, I have an understanding of Mauritian culture, but this was far more traditional) – but also because the tasks I was doing were very far-removed from lectures and seminars. Personally, I love the uni experience – give me a grammar class any day (weird, I know). But it was nice to have a break from it and to try something different – especially because the nature of my job as a journalist meant that I was doing something different every single day. When you have a year in another country to discover something new, and indeed yourself, don’t you think it makes sense to maybe push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone?
I’m going to be completely honest though – when it came to my colleagues and the attitude they had towards me, it wasn’t the best. As I was born and raised in the UK, they were very opinionated about me, and didn’t treat me as an equal. But there’s no reason to look at this in a negative light!
Dealing with them required a strength of character and a level of assertion, which I was able to develop, and the very nature of the work I was doing (where it was common for people to not call back or want to talk) meant I had to improve my way with words and my charisma (cue dead silence). The work was very rewarding in a cultural sense, teaching me more about my roots, and my written language skills seriously improved. There are always going to be bumps – for me, it was the hours and the fact my colleagues were so much older – but there’s always a bright side – clichéd, I know, but it is true.
Personally, I feel Work Abroad gets a bad rep. The reason why people tend to stay away from work placements is because it requires a lot of dedication – sending off CVs, covering letters and all that while also trying to get through second year. There’s going to be times when you feel disheartened, but if you stick with it, it can be really rewarding at the end of it. I would just advise that whilst strict deadlines for yourself is very helpful, be ready to accept that the companies you are applying to might not feel the same way and could take a lot longer than you might have expected to get back to you.
Overall though, a Work Placement can be really beneficial – and there could be the added incentive of a salary (no such luck for me though…). It gives you an opportunity to try something different, perhaps even tell you what kind of career you might enjoy, and can make you stand out. And the personal growth is quite significant in my opinion.