I’ll be honest, finding a placement was not easy! I did around 40 applications, had 5 assessment centres and countless video/telephone interviews, not forgetting the online tests. But it was 100% worth it.
The best advice I can give is to start preparing early, go to the CV surgery to get your CV looking as best as it can and get some relevant work experience on there. I applied for a few internships during first year but was rejected due to a lack of a variety of work experience and was recommended to go out and get a retail job, and I’m glad I did. It really helped me to further develop my confidence and gave me something to talk about in interviews.
I think it’s also easy to forget just how many other people out there are applying for placement positions, you need something to make you stand out, something you’re really proud of and really shows that you have a passion for the job you are applying for. For me, I had got involved with the HR within my retail job and trialled a new initiative there, this showed my interest in HR and was a project of a similar nature to the ones completed during the internships and placements I was applying for, showing not only that I had a passion for the role but also the necessary skills.
The holy grail of my placement search was the website RateMyPlacement. You can search purely for HR specific roles and there are hundreds of options. I found it really useful that it also gave reviews from previous students who had undertaken the placement and how they found it. RateMyPlacement was the main website I used for applications, but they are always advertised on companies’ websites or you can look on indeed/LinkedIn for smaller companies to apply for.
It's really important to seek the support which the university provides during the placement process. Margarita was so helpful for me when I was searching and it felt like someone was there to hold my hand during the whole process. Getting rejections is tough, and probably the most difficult part of it all, so it’s essential you have people around you to help you to see that maybe the company wasn’t right or you need to tweak your CV ready for the next application.
The Employability Service was so helpful to me when I began getting to interview stages, they have an online system where you can practise video interviews (which are very intimidating to begin with) or you can go for mock interviews with the career advisors. They really helped me to see where I was going wrong and to gain confidence in my interview skills. I also went to see them to understand the reports which were sent back to me alongside the rejections as these can be confusing and unclear as to how you can improve.
There are so many hoops to jump through once you begin the applications; an initial application form alongside your CV, personality tests and verbal and numerical reasoning tests. Then comes the interviews, usually video then a face to face interview or assessment centre. The assessment centres I attended had a variety of activities, but the most common was a recommendation-based presentation on a case study which you were given on the day, a group exercise, a role play and a face to face interview. I found these days really exciting as you got a real feel for the company and usually get to meet some of the members of staff, I found this really helped me to see if I would fit in at the companies.
The placement journey was a real rollercoaster for me, but the key to it all was persistence. Rejections are all part of the process, yes they are tough to receive, but it’s all about picking yourself back up and applying for more that might be better suited to your personality. Don’t give up!