After finishing third year exams and squeezing in a family holiday, I moved to Manchester for a year placement at an engineering company. As expected, it’s a very different experience from student life in Sheffield, but one I’m glad to be having. There’s a long list of reasons I chose a placement year, including career prospects and applying my degree knowledge. It’s been a big transition with a lot of differences but the odd similarity too.
One obvious difference is how differently my time is structured – spontaneous 2pm pint between lectures? Nope. Wednesday night Corp? Leave it – maybe you can drag yourself to lectures hungover, but trying to function in a professional environment at 8am would be unbearable. Lie-ins and the “I’ll start tomorrow” option are long gone too. But it works both ways – a massive bonus is the lack of intense exam stress and the long, late, IC sessions – when I’ve got to get things done I have to manage them, but it doesn’t reach the same levels (and I’ve known people get told off for working too many hours!).
I love Sheffield, but third year can all be a bit much – so doing something different before fourth year has been a great thing. It allows me to completely relax at weekends and it’s incredible not to have those “I should be doing work” thoughts running through my head when I do something fun or take some time out. That’s not to say I’ve got it easy – my job brings some big challenges and I’m more accountable than I ever was at uni, as my work affects a lot more than my grades. But I love my job – it’s satisfying and motivating knowing that my work contributes to solving real problems rather than to passing exams, and it gets me some really exciting opportunities like tours of chemical plants and attending women in engineering events in Parliament.
My free time has changed – last year I was on the committees of 3 societies, had a wide friendship circle and never seemed to spend any time in the house. When I was in the house, it was a veggie feminist bubble I shared with 3 other women. Outside university there’s not as much chance to get involved in extra things – I’ve had to make an effort to go to events at unis here or find local groups, and I’ve moved in with 5 guys from work. Leaving dos are different from freshers socials and it’s fair to say the company I’m at is pretty male dominated. But exploring a new city, meeting new people, and living in a completely different environment has been brilliant so far, and having more than a student loan to play with changes things (being roped into an extra round by uni friends is the downside). I visit Sheffield all the time (as for how much I’ve spent on trains… it’s a good job I get paid) to make the most of my weekends, and “I have a spare room in Manchester if you want to stay” is a phrase my friends are big fans of.