Graduates & Students

Making the most of your graduate placement

Read our top tips to help build on those practical skills you gained at university.

Published: 24/08/2016

Graduation was a blast, you’ve waved goodbye to student life – and bingo! You’ve landed your ScotGrad placement. You want to make a good impression and show off your stuff, but how can you make the most of your new role and improve on everything you learned at university? 

Now in graduate employment, you will be called upon to use the practical skills you gained during your university years. If you don’t know what the practical applications of your degree are, your employer will!

Here’s a few to get you started:

Emotional intelligence

Meeting new people, living in shared accommodation and working on countless team projects will have equipped you with some sort of social understanding, tact and empathy. In employability terms this makes you good at communicating and a capable team player. Build on these skills by listening, and knowing when (and, equally as important, when not) to share opinions.

Independent working

However, when you weren’t working as a part of a team, a lot of your studies would have been spent on your own, knuckling down and getting stuck into your research. Therefore, you’ll be comfortable and confident when left alone during placement to work and get on with tasks. If you’re unsure of something, use your initiative to research the answer or ask for advice.  Also, if you finish one task, make sure to ask for more work – this shows willing.


The word “dissertation” may send a shiver down your spine, but during your university course you will have written a significant amount of paperwork for specific audiences and purposes. Whether a lab report, an essay, a research paper or a presentation, you can adapt your writing style for what is needed. Use this knowledge when performing any written tasks on placement, while taking the effort to apply your organisation’s style and tone.

Presenting information

Presentations were not just your tutor’s preferred method of torture, they taught you how to present information, and structure a cohesive and persuasive argument. During your seminar sessions, you will have shared opinions, led discussions and presented topics to the class. As well as an indication of how well you perform under pressure, you know how to present information orally and visually. Consider the best methods when asked to report back to your colleagues and mentor.

Evaluation and analysis

Also during your course, you would have had to apply critical analysis and judgement on arguments, as well as reflect on your successes and learn from your mistakes. Take this critical eye into your placement to measure your strengths and weaknesses in the role and keep a note of how much you’ve learned, tricky tasks you’ve overcome and areas which still need work.

University has prepared you well, and your placement will put you in good stead to improve on what you already know as well as learn and experience thing you haven’t before. So enjoy your placement, make some connections and aim to learn as much as you can.