Getting the most from your placement

You’re likely to enjoy your placement if:

  • You're interested
  • There’s variety
  • You like the staff and the work
  • You know what procedures to use and are confident to ask about what you don’t know
  • You have the opportunity to achieve the outcomes you need for your portfolio, etc.

Your placement isn’t likely to be enjoyable if:

  • You feel bored
  • There’s no variety at all
  • The staff don’t seem to think you’re doing a good job
  • You feel uncertain about what to do
  • You are not gaining the experience to complete your portfolio, etc.
  • You feel you’re just being used as ‘slave labour’

How do you ensure your placement experience isn’t in the second category?   The good news is that it’s mainly up to you how successful your placement is!  Students who are interested and reliable are much more likely to win the trust of staff.  If they see that you’re happy to pitch in, ask questions and show some enthusiasm, there’s a far greater chance of you getting more interesting things to do.  Placement providers may have seen hundreds of students/volunteers and some will have made a wonderful impression, while others the opposite. The following are a few anonymised comments from employers:

“A spent most of the time looking out the window or fiddling with a mobile phone”;
“B wouldn’t talk to our clients or our staff – we accept that B is shy but we have to communicate in our work”;
“C was great when s/he was there but unreliable.  Over 6 weeks, C phoned three times with lame excuses and on another occasion we didn’t even get a message”.

It’s not surprising that these students weren’t held in high regard and the students themselves probably got very little from the experience.  Student A seems to be bored and unprofessional in approach. Student B clearly is shy but is missing an opportunity to work on communication skills.  However great Student C might be on a given day, who could rely on such a student?

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