- Where can I go on a work placement and what can I do?
ML students – You may go to any country where the target language is spoken, providing the placement meets the conditions set by the university. The Residency Abroad must be equivalent to one language stage in terms of progress, therefore the placement must allow for full immersion into the target language in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Tourist centres where other languages are widely used, bar and restaurant work and working as an au-pair are not considered suitable.
NON ML students – Where you can spend your Residency Abroad is dependent on your course, faculty regulations and University.
- Are all placements paid?
There is no set wage for employers to pay students on a year abroad placement; it depends on the country, organisation and employers. However, this is a factor you have to take into account when applying for a position.
- When should I start looking for a work placement?
It is very important to plan ahead; finding a job or internship abroad is not an easy task, but the rewards will be worth the effort. Currently, unemployment rates in Europe are generally quite high but it should not put you off, European employers are constantly looking for native-English speakers and it is often easier to find an internship, and therefore suitable for the YA placement. It is advisable to start at the beginning of your second year.
N.B.: if you do not find a work placement by the given deadline (May second year), you will have to take up an Erasmus study placement.
- What are the benefits of a work placement?
Employers value work experience and, when combining this with a period of residency abroad, it will be a valuable asset to you and extremely beneficial when looking for a graduate career. Today’s current economic climate means that businesses are looking to create links and gain clients overseas and therefore being able to speak a language, and have profession experience in a certain field, will be favourable. An article by The Guardian (de Valk 2012) on graduate employment advises students to “Make your CV stand out by demonstrating that you have worked with diverse groups of people” and a work placement for your year abroad is a great opportunity to do so.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of a work placement?
The language skills you gain whilst working abroad are invaluable as you are usually surrounded by native speakers and operate in the target language in different contexts and scenarios. You will be gaining valuable work experience, which is important in today’s current climate. As you will be working full time, you may have to compromise on certain areas (which you may not have to do on a study placement) such as social life or travelling time.
- Do I still get an Erasmus mobility grant if I go on a work placement?
If the work placement is within Europe and it is signed under the LLP/Erasmus Work Placements scheme, then you will be entitled to receive the Erasmus grant (which you do not pay back).
- If I work outside of Europe, will I still get a grant?
You will not receive an Erasmus grant; however, your Local Education Authority (LEA) may have grants available to help with travel and living costs.
- Will I be entitled to any holiday time?
This is something you need to speak to your employer about once you have started work (not the first question to be asked!). You must be aware that you may not be entitled to any holiday time; this usually applies when you are on an internship (i.e. stagiaires in France) – however, your employer knows you are not there purely to work; you are also there to explore the country and culture, so you should be able to negotiate something.
- What are my working rights? (i.e. sick leave, working hours)
This is something you need to speak to your employer about; you would generally be working “normal” full-time hours – i.e. those set by the organisation/company/enterprise. Don’t forget that you have a project to complete, if you are finding juggling your time with work and your project, talk to your employer to negotiate some time where you can set aside to do this.
- What are the risks involved in a work placement abroad?
Not all countries comply with the Health & Safety laws that there are in the UK; this does not mean that you shouldn’t find out about what do in case of an emergency/ fire, etc. It is your responsibility to do this, your home university should provide advice and forms to complete regarding health and safety, and it is not their responsibility should anything happen due to carelessness on your behalf.