It’s that time of year when placement applications begin to loom over you, just as you’re trying to juggle uni assignments and maybe a part-time job, too. But trust me, it's worth putting in the effort.
Getting a placement can be daunting, but it’s one of the most rewarding experiences that you’ll have and I promise that all the hard work (and maybe tears!) will be worth it in the end.
Use your contacts
My first tip is to make the most of the Placements Team. My placement advisor was the most crucial pillar of support for me throughout the process, and was always someone who I could go and rant or cry at if I had received a rejection.
The Placements Team have so much expertise to help students to find the right placement for them. They can also help you to stand out from the crowd, or if you’re feeling nervous about an interview or assessment centre. They can support with mock interviews, de-coding confusing application processes and how to pick yourself back up if you’ve been rejected from your dream company. Definitely one to make the most of!
My second tip is don’t give up! It’s so easy to do, after a couple of applications that you may have half-heartedly filled in not actually wanting to go and work for the company. I applied for almost 40 schemes and had around six interviews, but typically ended up being successful for one of the first opportunities that I had applied for.
It’s a tough process but every rejected application is an opportunity to learn.
Failed the maths test? There are so many practice tests available online, so get practising.
Failed the situational judgement tests? The company just isn’t right for you. The point of the values testing is to see if you have the same values, so at this stage it just means that you weren’t a good match for the company. It’s no reflection on your personality or capability.
There are thousands of opportunities out there and the Placements Team can help you to find and apply for as many schemes as you like. Just keep going!
Emma on placement at M&S
Patience is a virtue
My final tip is to be patient… the process can be long and slow and frustrating at times, as it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere. I applied for my placement in October, had my testing in November, a video interview in December and then assessment centre at the end of January. It definitely wasn’t a speedy process as there are so many candidates applying for each position, especially at the big companies.
It may seem like you’re constantly checking your emails for updates (I know I was) but be patient with responses, and if you’re really worried, drop the company an email to see if they can update you on where you are in the process.
So that’s it: make the most of the Placements Team, don’t give up, and be patient!
Good luck placement hunting :)
Many of our undergraduate degree courses, including Emma's, offer a placement year. They're a great chance to gain work experience and make industry contacts. Find out more about courses with placement years.