Careers Future Student-made

Placement searching : the good, the bad, the ugly

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I am terrified, I feel unprepared and I am wearing my mums clothes. Why? Because I have my final interview for a placement today. Let me start from the beginning…

My course is Management and Marketing with an industrial placement. That means after 2nd year, I would ideally go to work for a year to gain real life experience. Emphasis here on ideally. I thought it was going to be a lot smoother of a process than it really was.

Firstly, before you can even take a year in industry, you need 60% (2:1) in your first year. So please ignore the “First year doesn’t matter” whispers, because in this case it really does.

Now that you’ve succeeded in your 1st year exams, on comes the first semester of 2nd year. Around October the internships start being posted and applications sent. This goes on pretty much till mid/late June the following year.

Not only will you have to balance your studies ensuring you get a 2:1 again this year, but you also have to fix your CV, your LinkedIn, write cover letters, fill out applications, attend assessment days/interviews and whatever else at the same time. It stressful but it’s also doable.

The application process for me, wasn’t too bad for a lot of internships. They were often a couple of questions about you and the company, or a CV and cover letter. The online assessment tests, however, that came after the applications now that’s a different story.

The worst part really was the wait. I applied to a lot of jobs early on and whilst some answered promptly, others took up to 3 months. That feeling of unknowing for the first few months October – February is horrible but nowhere near as bad as the March – June period.

Around April everyone and their grandmother seems to have a placement and everything sorted, this wasn’t the case for me. That’s when the pressure and the fear spiked. By August the university (politely) tells you it’s time to call it quits, and takes you off the 4 year course if you haven’t been successful in securing a place, meaning you move straight on to 3rd year in September.

As August draws near, desperation kicks in and confidence levels drop. After receiving many a ‘Sorry but in this instance you have not been successful’ all hope begins to feel lost. I found I almost didn’t care anymore, I was sick and tired of the maths assessment tests and I felt like all hope was lost.

With one last push of energy, I went onto LinkedIn and started applying like rapid fire. Sometimes to jobs that were advertised for graduate interns, sometimes for jobs that were only 2-3 month work experience. I decided if I couldn’t do a year I would try and do a couple of months in summer so I could still get some of that experience.

It was then that I got an email from an agency in Manchester who despite me not being a graduate, invited me to an interview for their junior intern role. This brings me to the present interview I was talking about.

Although nothing is secure yet, I am hopeful. So I just wanted to let anyone going through or about to go through this experience, it’ll be fine. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get one. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the one you wanted but you get a different one. It’s not the end of the world if you get one 4 months after everyone else.

This process is a lot harder than expected, and as my dad told me ‘some people may be successful in the one job they apply for and you in the 100th’, the right job will find you in its own time. The university does so much to help you such as CV clinics and monthly placement bulletins posted, but you will have to secure the job on your own, there’s only so much they can do.

My top tips are:

– To use LinkedIn and rate my placement

– To search outside advertised placement student roles

-To use the careers service

– To not put all your hope in one job/company (like I did with a certain company that shan’t be named *cries*)

– And lastly to not lose hope and compare your position to anyone else.


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