"Completing a placement year was the best decision I made" says Danielle

What is a sandwich year? Does it mean extra studying? Is it worthwhile?

A sandwich year or placement year usually takes place during your third year of study. It is an opportunity for you to gain valuable experience in a working environment. Placement years are totally different to the work experience you did during secondary school. You will be employed by an external company undertaking a role similar to a graduate entry position.

Danielle John, a BSc (Hons) Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management alumni had every intention of completing her degree after three years, but when her lecturer sold the idea of a placement year, she had no idea it would mean a successful career as a Commercial Manager at Network Rail.

“I wanted my degree to be over and done with as quick as possible, I had no intention on completing a placement, let alone an entire placement year, but my lecturer Scott Parfitt encouraged the whole year group to complete a sandwich year, and I am 100% glad I did. I’ve graduated not only with a degree but with vital experience to push me above the rest when applying for jobs.”

Danielle saw the placement opportunity on the USW Career Services webpages (available to all USW students and alumni) and decided to apply. 

“I was so lucky to have a lecturer who took the time to help me with my presentation which I was asked to deliver at the interview. In fact, throughout my studies and even now the support I receive is amazing. If you ever need anything the lecturers were always there to offer their support. They were always contactable.”

Danielle started her placement on a salary of 18k and worked on a number of procurement contracts. She said:

“I was thrown straight in to work and shadowed a girl named Olivia, who was also a placement student who’d been kept on from last year. I was lucky to be kept on and decided to split my last year at USW over two years so I could work full-time and study part time which Network Rail agreed to pay for. If I never chose to apply for that placement, none of this would have happened.”

Since her placement, Danielle has moved around the organisation and now manages the contracts she previously put out to tender during her placement. However, her work life has been made incredibly busy this last year due to the pandemic.

“I’ve been sourcing a lot of PPE, cleaning and sanitising products for our frontline staff who have been working throughout 2020. With so many companies on the hunt for these supplies, it has meant long hours for myself, however, it is rewarding to know I am contributing towards the safety of our key workers.”