My placement experience in Cape Town, SA

Aerial view of Cape Town Coast from Unsplash

Why should you do a placement year when you can graduate earlier and go straight into work?

Article written by BSc Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Student, Nicolas Sigrist

As someone who is currently doing my placement abroad in Cape Town SA, here’s my experience and why I think it’s worth doing one.

The placement I secured is with a startup Digital Marketing Agency called Prime Pixels. Five months have now flown by and my experience so far has given me a better idea of what I want to do for my career.

It also gives me a head start when I graduate in terms of working experience.

 

Knowing that students are now starting to look into placements, I thought it would be a great time to share what I’ve experienced and any tips that I have.

Finding a Placement Abroad

I chose to do a placement abroad because I thought it would be a great opportunity to experience a new culture and meet a diverse group of people.

However, since most student placement positions are based in the UK, you have to be quite proactive when looking for one abroad. My tip would be to network with final year students who have just come back from their own placement years. This is how I ended up finding my own placement.

LinkedIn is another great way to network and secure a placement position. You simply need to connect and message a large number of people who are working in industries that you’re interested in.

If you’re looking for a placement in the UK, University of Reading Careers provides great resources such as MyJobsOnline where you can find a wide range of opportunities.

Startup Environment

One factor that was very important to me when looking for a placement was whether the company was a startup.

I wanted to work in a startup because the team tends to be smaller making the atmosphere more casual. I get to have weekly meetings with the CEO to discuss marketing strategy and activities as a placement student, something that would be impossible at a large corporation. Your working environment should not be overlooked, especially if you’re going to be working somewhere for a whole year.

Also, because of the dynamic nature of startups, I have a great work-life balance. I am able to work from home for up to three times a week with flexible work hours. This work schedule is ideal when you are transitioning from a student into a full-time work position.

What I’ve learned so far

My responsibilities involve managing several of the internal brands’ digital marketing activities. This includes creating social media content, search engine optimisation (SEO) activities such as content writing and backlinks, Analytics tracking and many more aspects. We are also incentivised to learn and complete online courses when we have time.

Small businesses tend to have a more generalised approach for skill development whereas larger corporations look for highly specialised individuals and teams. I prefer a generalised approach as I get to experience a wide range of areas relating to digital marketing.

By working on multiple different aspects of digital marketing, I get a better idea of what I am interested in doing and gain experience in different areas.

Challenges

Moving to a new place it’s going to be a big change in terms of adjusting to your new lifestyle. Meeting people and socialising is a lot different from university, especially if you’re moving somewhere where you have no connections. You either meet people through work or your hobbies, for example going to the gym, event and on nights out.

Secondly, time management is going to be a challenge when you start working full time. Managing work with groceries, cooking, socialising and your hobbies take up almost all of your time. It’s easy to end up being burnt out and having no time to rest, so make sure you plan some time in your day to unwind and do nothing.

Finally, working at a startup requires you to be proactive and self-reliant. There’s a lot of freedom in what you can do, which can make you unsure where to proceed.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and trust your judgement in these situations.

Conclusion

It can seem overwhelming at first, but this is something everyone goes through and soon enough you’ll settle into your new lifestyle.

Your year is what you make of it, so make sure you know what you want to get out of the placement before starting.

I hope that this has helped you get a better idea for what you want to do, best of luck on finding a placement!


Want to explore global careers?

Take a look at our Global Careers Pages, or explore our platforms such as GoinGlobal.