27 July 2022
Advice From a Placement Student
So you’re thinking of doing a placement? Luckily for you, I was in your shoes not too long ago. And now that I’ve done a placement for a company that advertises placements, I’m in the perfect position to share everything I’ve learnt along the way.
But before you take advice from a stranger, let me tell you a bit about myself…
I’m Lluvia Lora: Marketing Graduate from Birmingham City University, and current placement student at RateMyPlacement.
While placements are typically carried out when you’re still at university, mine was delayed due to a little thing called COVID-19. So I started post-graduation.
Here are my tips to guide you through your placement journey…
To placement or not to placement?
The idea of doing a placement wasn’t even on my radar until my lecturers explained the benefits to us.
At first I only thought of the negatives…
“What if I forget everything once I go back to university?”
or, “I’ll miss out on a whole year with my friends.”
However, it was almost impossible to ignore the COUNTLESS benefits there are to doing a placement. Just to name a few:
- learning tons of skills
- building up an incredible amount of confidence
- making work pals for life
Before your search…
There are TWO things you should do before you even begin to search for a placement:
- Check that your CV is at its highest standard. This seems basic, but don’t make the mistake of assuming yours is ‘good enough’. Your CV is essentially your Tinder profile for finding jobs. So it needs to make employers swipe right.
- Make the most of the career services offered by the university. I set up a 20-minute meeting with one of the careers advisors to go over my CV, and it was super insightful.
Jump over to our how-to guide for expert CV advice.
What I wish I’d known sooner
I originally began by ONLY applying to large corporate companies like Disney – assuming that the bigger the name, the bigger your success.
I quickly realised that the competition for these roles is fierce! According to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), there was an average of 63 applications for every hire.
Even though a corporate company would look good on the ol’ CV, a 1-year placement is the perfect opportunity to build and strengthen your knowledge and skills in as much depth as possible, and the best way to do this is with a smaller company.
Why? Because not only do you get more opportunities to work on your own projects, you get more help from experienced members of a team PLUS tailored feedback from the people who have been working closely with you.
Of course, working for a company like Disney is a mammoth achievement. The point is, there’s nothing wrong with starting small. As a newbie in the working world, the most important thing to look for is an employer that cares about your career development.
Next steps of the application process
A few weeks after applying for the role at RateMyPlacement, I was invited for a Skype interview. I was elated because this was the first response I’d received back!
I applied to around 15 jobs in total, each requiring an online application, cover letter and tailored CV, but I only ever heard back from four.
I’d only had one online interview before, so to prepare I…
- Extensively researched the company
- Had a quick google of some top interview questions
- Practiced speaking on camera
- Attempted to show off my personality by making a joke or two
It must have worked, as to my surprise I was then invited to the assessment centre along with 5 other candidates!
Once I was in the office I felt so confident. The vibe was so welcoming and I could instantly visualise myself working there. I tried to put this good energy into all the tasks given and hoped for the best!
How the pandemic inevitably affected my placement
I found out I got the job in January of 2020 due to start in July, but of course the virus that shall not be named, struck.
Like many, this meant my summer plans and my new shiny placement couldn’t happen. I was devastated.
But then, I was offered the chance to come back as a graduate instead! I was so happy to hear this as it meant my hard work hadn’t gone to waste.
So, in the meantime I went back to uni to complete my degree. It wasn’t quite the final year I had envisioned for myself but to my surprise, I still managed to graduate with a first and I am now coming to the end of my placement at RMP and have never enjoyed a job quite like this one.
To end on a final note, don’t let the last 2 years discourage you from applying to your dream role. The pandemic has helped me build up some amazing resilience and determination.
Employers will take Covid-19 into consideration when you apply for a placement, they know it’s been a tough time. Work experience opportunities are currently on the rise, so make sure to check them out while you can!
As for me, I will moving to Australia to travel for a year, or 2, or 3.
There are loads of placement opportunities available right now. Click below to get started…
Written by Lluvia
Lluvia is our current placement student at RateMyPlacement. She has a keen interest in helping Gen Z reach their goals and can't wait to see what careers they go into. At the end of her year here, Lluvia will be off to the other side of the world backpacking around Australia.