Top tips for transitioning from student to professional on placement

Posted in: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

Author: Egor Naumov -

Transitioning from university to the workplace will be different at different companies, but usually there will be a few weeks of training where you will get introduced to your colleagues and have the chance to acquire the necessary knowledge for your placement. This will help you out massively, as when you start working you'll have useful contacts to reach out to if you need help and hopefully a bunch of notes to refer back to from your training.

Ask questions! People will always be willing to help and learning directly from your colleagues is the best way to not only develop your knowledge but also make friends (or network) which can help you out further in your career.

Share your ideas. I joined a well established client team, where 4 out of the 7 people had been in the same role for over 10 years, some over 20! Hence, it may seem intimidating to offer them any advice on how to improve your workflow, and granted tread carefully with some people, but 99% of them will appreciate a fresh look at things. After doing the same for so long they may get stuck in their own ways and miss some improvements!

Try to evolve your role. If you find that your role isn’t challenging enough, you can discuss it with your line manager and ask for more tasks. For example, in one of my teams, I started off with helping out with administrative tasks and over the next few months I started picking up more and more tasks such as running their internal meetings, then the external meetings and then automating their admin tasks. By the end of my placement I was developing a completely new system for them! It is important to go beyond your responsibilities, not only to impress your managers, but also to make work more challenging and enjoyable for yourself.

Make sure people are aware of your work. At university it may not be the best idea to go around telling people how good you are it your degree but in a job environment it is important to be noticed and recognised for your work. This can lead to people coming to you for help with their tasks which can help you build up great connections that may be useful when looking for graduate roles.

Final tip for making a transition from the workplace back to being a student - after getting into a habit of working 9-5 all year, try to stick with this after your placement and carry that over to your studies. This way you’ll have more free time during the evenings without worrying about work, plus it’s very unlikely you will actually work throughout the whole day as in my experience the workload at uni is significantly less than in an actual job.

Posted in: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

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