Placement Ambassador – Helen Beeby
Placement Ambassadors are Stage 3 students who have returned from a placement year. They are happy to offer advice and guidance to stage 2 students looking for a placement.Why did you choose to do a one year commercial placement?
I chose to do a placement year so that I could develop and expand on my current marketing knowledge and skill set. Using marketing in the workplace is completely different to what you learn about, so to experience it first-hand is something that puts you in good stead for graduate jobs, and your final year at University. It also helps you develop as a person; your interpersonal skills grow and you become a lot more confident in both your knowledge and personality.
Which company did you work for? What was your position?
MYJAR – Marketing Assistant
What was the highlight of your placement year?
At the beginning of the placement year, I had a lot of exposure to different elements within Marketing at the company, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It allowed me to understand more about the subject area, and get an idea of what areas interested me the most and what I would want to move forward with in the future.
I also got to attend some industry award evenings which was a lot of fun -we even won one of the awards that I helped write the entry for!
How has the placement experience helped your own development?
I believe that the placement has helped me to grow as an individual in a very positive way. In terms of work place skills, I have seen my organisation, time management and communication skills all vastly improve, along with my confidence. These transferable skills will all help me in the years to come. Also, simple work place knowledge is vital for when you start a graduate job – there are just some things that your lecturers can’t teach you! It’s all about the experience.
What elements of the placement have been most useful in helping you move towards your careers goal? What is your career goal?
As previously mentioned, this placement year has helped me to focus on what area of Marketing I want to concentrate on. If you don’t know which area of your degree subject you want to branch out to, this year in industry will help you. You might still come away with a few questions, just like I did, but it does give you an idea of your subject in the real working world.
If I’m being honest, I still want to keep looking at different areas, as I enjoyed a lot about my placement, so my future career goal is still a little hazy, but it’s a lot more refined than it used to be!
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about doing a commercial placement?
If you’re on the edge of doing a placement, and you’re weighing up the pros and cons, I would just say go for it! It was one of the best decisions I’d ever made, and I am so happy that I decided to do one. It really does help you grow as a person.
I started my placement in September 2016, a little later than everyone else in the year. I only got a placement confirmed in June of that year. It cannot be stressed enough how much you need to prepare for a placement year. That’s not to make you panic now though, because there’s always time!
My top tips for your placement applications are:
- Start sooner rather than later – Applications start around October the year before it starts, but there are applications all the way up until the start date, so keep looking! It took me a whole 8 months to secure a placement. The applications can also be a long process, so they may take several months to complete. Some jobs could have an initial application with questions, a covering letter, a math test, a telephone / video interview, an assessment centre and a final interview!
- Perfect your CV – You want your application to shine above all the other candidates. Placements are very competitive so you need to make sure that you make a good first impression. When I went back to University for stage 2, I popped over to the careers service to get my CV looked over. After 3 visits, it was ready to go. I had a master copy that I could then adjust and tailor to each job application.
- Tailor your CV for each job application – If your CV is pretty long, maybe think about being selective as to what you put on your CV. You might have a lot of work experience, but some might be more relevant than others for the job you are applying for.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you get rejected – I sent around 15 formal applications to those who were looking for placement students. I had assessment centres for big names such as Apple, Unilever, Disney and L’Oreal, but sadly I received a call the following day to say I was not successful. Don’t just focus on the big names! You could also send off speculative job applications to companies, which is how I found my placement. They weren’t openly offering a position but after sending my CV, a covering letter and then a later interview with the Chief Marketing Officer, I was offered a job.
Don’t let my rejections scare you! It was all a huge learning curve – some companies will give you feedback if they cannot offer you a job, to say what you could do better next time. And if your feedback is like mine; “nothing was wrong, just someone was better”, just get back up on your feet and keep trying. You will succeed, so don’t give up. If you think you’re having a hard time finding a job, email Nicola and she’ll be more than happy to help!
If you have any placement related questions, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org