Who was your placement with and what was your job title?
My year-long industrial placement is at one of the world’s leading networking companies Cisco Systems, where I work as a network lab administrator.
What attracted you to this placement opportunity?
Since I became interested in computer networks back at secondary school I have always wanted to work for Cisco as they are the industry leaders who are innovative and set new industry standards. Upon viewing the advertised placement I knew it would be the perfect for both my personal and career development. On top of this it would still allow me to continue developing knowledge on topics I had already learnt at University.
How did you go about securing your placement and what was the process for this?
There were several steps that I went through to secure the placement. I started looking in my first year at different jobs, seeing the skills they were after and therefore managing to sync my skill set with what they were looking for. When second year came around I made sure that my CV was up to standard and I began applying for jobs early. I also sought help from the University careers team and lecturers. All of these steps allowed me to secure my perfect placement.
Can you describe the various roles and responsibilities of your placement?
My job varies from day to day, I work on projects both big and small. I work in the labs; building test beds, troubleshooting issues and installing new equipment which has given me access to many different technologies. The other side of my job is getting involved with engineers to solve customer challenges and test viable solutions.
How did the Careers & Employability Department (Placements Team) support you both before your placement?
The University's careers team have supported me hugely from the get go! In first year they helped me look for potential placement roles and showed me jobs past students had done. Moving into second year they helped me to develop my CV; they also set up workshops in preparation for assessment days and showed me how to make my application stand out.
How did the academic staff support you during your placement?
I’ve had regular contact with all my lecturers and have even popped into University to see them when I have been in Plymouth throughout the year. They have ensured to keep in regular contact with me to ensure I was happy and keeping on task, as well as conducting placement visits. The biggest topic of conversation however has been about my final year project ideas.
How did your previous studies enable you to be successful during your placement?
My placement is very technical based and the knowledge I gained, plus the skills I learnt during my first two years of studying, gave me a solid foundation. This allowed me to have a prior understanding of the technologies and to hit the ground running once my placement started.
How will your placement help you with the final year of your degree?
The technical knowledge that I have gained from undertaking my placement means that I had a huge headstart for final year. The biggest advantage of this is that I can take full advantage of my final year and really build on the skills I’ve ascertained so far. My placement has also really given me the motivation and focus to put 100 per cent into my concluding year.
In terms of your career development so far, what have been the benefits of undertaking this placement?
I’ve had the opportunity to experiment, break and very quickly fix a wide range of equipment whilst I’ve been at Cisco. Most network engineers will never have the opportunity to play with such an expensive and diverse range of kit. As well as this I’ve had the chance to learn how the business works and gain several industry standard certificates, recognising my technical ability.
What would you say to a prospective student thinking about undertaking a placement year?
If any student finds a placement that interests them I’d tell them to grab the opportunity with both hands. It’s a great way to learn and get exposure to your future industry whilst even allowing you to choose your area of expertise and focus.
Was the fact that Plymouth offered a placement year a motivational factor in your decision to choose Plymouth? If so, why?
Looking back at when I made my decision, although the fact that we could take placement year to enrich our studies was very attractive, I was more drawn by the course and the University itself.