Thursday, 24 October 2013

Placements, Placements, Placements…

In my last few blogs I've touched a bit on placements, but I haven’t really gone into much detail. Well… Enough detail to get you by, I wouldn't want to bore you with facts and figures now would I?

Moving on then, here’s a short bullet point list regarding the steps you should take in order to firstly choose a company, and secondly actually get higher chances of getting the job:

Ask yourself, “Do I really want to do a Placement Year? If so, why?”
  • Fair enough, I've gone on about how beneficial a placement year is but these were benefits that I derived from my own personal research and aspirations. For some people, placements just aren't their thing; they’d rather complete Uni and then start worrying about getting a job (you decide the practicality of that).
  • Obviously the potential income is extremely enticing however; THIS SHOULDN'T BE YOUR MAIN REASON. If you let the drive for money be your sole motivation in terms of placements, you’ll just end up doing a placement that you don’t actually want to do and has no correlation with your degree or future career prospects. Bear in mind I’m not saying that money shouldn't be a motive, it is, and always will be, that’s why we all work after all, just don’t let that be your only and most important reason. The real rewards are intangible, such as experience and self-satisfaction.
  • Identify the benefits that it could give YOU, whether it is the experience, networking or income.

You've decided right? Great! Next step:
  • If you haven’t done so already, consult your parents/guardians, tutor or advisor and see if they support your initiative. If you still have some uncertainty, the university have placement talks and workshops organised by the by the Guidance Employability Team and Business Employability office which will give you an opportunity to ask any questions and in some cases, actually hear what employers think about the scheme.
  • Once you’re certain that this is what you want to do, send an email to containing your Full Name, Course Title and Year, Banner ID No. as well as a short note stating that you would like your mode of study to be changed from full-time to a sandwich course. With this option, you have nothing to lose because even if you don’t get a placement for whatever reason, your mode of study can easily be changed back to full time.
  • If possible, try and get your course changed either before the end of your first year, or as soon as you start your second year. That way you have a lot more time to actually look for placements and bear in mind most big companies have their application deadlines in October and even November!
  • Some websites that I find really helpful in searching for internships and placements are, and My personal favourite is Rate My Placement, I found it a lot more specific in terms of actual companies that gave placements etc. however I’m not taking anything away from the other two, check them out too, you might like them more.

Now the ‘hard’ bit, before applying:
  • Do some research into the industry you would like to go into, ideally something that links up well with your degree and third year modules. Get at least a minimum of 20-25 businesses in that industry that you would like to go into, and then another 10 in a related industry which skills are transferable. I know, I know, this seems like a lot, but trust me, once you comprehend the amount of applications sent to these companies by students just like you and I, you’ll apply to as many as possible to raise your chances, and you would really have nothing much to lose.
  • Like mentioned above, try and get your course changed as soon as you decide, preferably first few weeks of the second year. Next most, if not all placements primarily target students on the path to getting a 2:1 so it’s really advisable that you get good marks for the first year.
  • Before sending out any applications, unless if you are 153% certain that your CV and cover letters are flawless, set up an appointment with the Business Employability office by emailing your full name, Banner ID and a note stating that you would like to book a CV and Cover Letter Clinic to Trust me, this helps! I had so much confidence in my CV until my clinic where so many corrections came up and I left with a much better CV. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS!!!!!

Finally, applying:
  • Once you have your ammunition ready, that being your CV and list of companies, you’re ready to apply. A quick note though, in most cases it’s highly unadvisable to have a generic Cover Letter because companies want to feel that you wrote it specifically for them, that will impress them a lot.
  • For companies that require some form of online tests, get some practice questions done beforehand to give you a better understanding. There are some practise psychometric tests available via the student portal if need be.

On a closing note, throughout the whole process remember the fact that you’re not alone, aside from the employability offices, there are tutors, and even lecturers that would be happy to give you more information or guidance regarding this. The large majority of employers out there look for graduates with work experience and if you have a year’s placement experience under your belt, guess what, your chances just doubled! I take a placement year like a Demo for a Playstation (or Xbox -_-) game because it gives you a taste of what the real thing is like, which in this case would be an actual full time job and professional environment, and it gives you some valuable experience all before the real thing.

But yeah, this is my blog dedicated to placements, I hope I've shed some light on pressing issues and managed to give some useful information.

 Till we read again…

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Start of second year

Well, 2nd Year has definitely started with a bang. Complete contrast from first year where you’re kind of eased into the workload, 2nd year is the complete contrast because you pretty much have no option but to hit the ground running! However, what I can reflect on is the fact that since I paid a reasonable amount of attention in my first year, nothing this year is really taking me by surprise that much. It’s obviously a lot more work crammed into a short amount of time but this is the vital time to gain those ‘time management’ skills we've been drilled into familiarising ourselves with since the age of fourteen. My advice to those entering the 2nd year of study is to draft up a coursework planner, this way when you have a constant reminder of when your deadlines are, you’ll be more inclined to actually get started.

As employability is also becoming a major issue, I’d also advice students to consider a placement year as I believe that apart from your degree, this is the next best thing to have on your CV. Placement years give students that work experience that all employers seem to be constantly after and if you can provide evidence of experience, this will make your application more lucrative. On a professional point of view, others take University as a chance to get a degree, I take it as a chance to build up my CV, there are so many things that you can get involved with between the first and the third year to have a ‘banging’ CV.  One of the biggest drawbacks to graduates is lack of knowledge in general, so give our Guidance Employability Team or our Business Employability Team a visit and they’ll be able to help you with anything from Cover Letters, to CV’S to advice in the top graduate employers.

But on a whole I look forward to the challenges this year will bring, after all, no place worth going has an easy pathway right?