The Intern ‘Work-Study-Life’ Balance

Since last June, we’ve had the pleasure of taking on our first ever Marketing Intern, Leah Miller! As part of learning at work week, we thought we’d take the opportunity to interview her about her experience.

Why did you choose to do a placement year?

I thought a placement year would be an excellent opportunity to gain actual industry experience before I graduate. Obviously, when you’re in a classroom, it’s all very theoretical, but I think it’s important to understand what working is like and how to put theory into practice. I think it’s hard enough for graduates to find a job as it is, but even harder if you have no experience, so it makes sense to take a year out.

Could you tell us a bit more about your course?

Most people who decide to do a sandwich degree do the placement year in their third year and go back to university for the fourth year.

However, my university offered the opportunity to combine the final year of studying while doing a placement. When I saw this, I thought: great. It’s essentially saving me a year of my time and provides the opportunity to gain experience in the workplace.

How did you manage to learn everything for university?

Before I started my placement with Gleeson Recruitment Group, we had block teaching for four weeks, and we learnt 80% of our final year content. Then we were left to do the assignments – including a dissertation. In January, I then went back for one last week of teaching. So essentially my whole final year was condensed into the space of 5 weeks!

How have you found it so far?

In all honesty, I underestimated how challenging it would be. As soon as I left school, I worked part-time jobs in addition to full-time education; I remember thinking: surely this can’t be too different?

This has been completely different. I really underestimated the challenge of working full-time whilst completing my final year of university.

As the year has gone on, I’ve gotten used to working 9-5 and then coming home and completing work from 6pm-10pm. I do often feel like the work is never-ending and like I’m always trying to finish. I’ve been able to keep focused on the bigger picture and think I’m quite lucky that I have saved a year of my time by doing a sandwich degree this way.

Do you have any advice for someone who also has to balance work and study?

Here are three of my personal tips:

  1. Procrastinating isn’t something that you can afford to do in this situation. When you get the work, do it straight away. The last thing you want is to be stressing about deadlines when you’ve got a full-time job to go to.
  2. But with that being said, you have to find time for yourself. Make sure you still have a social life and go out with your friends and family. If it makes you feel better, then have a day to binge-watch Game of Thrones to give your mind a rest.
  3. Don’t let your sleeping pattern go down the drain – pulling together your dissertation at 2 in the morning may seem like a reasonable idea when you have nothing to do the next day, but when you start work at nine it’s far from ideal!

Would you say it’s been worth it?

Yes, definitely – I think more students at university should take a year out to do a placement because it puts you in a much better position for when you do graduate. Not only that but if you start working for a specific business function (e.g. HR) and decide you don’t like it, then you have the chance to move on and do something else.

Who is Leah Miller

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