For some university courses like ITMB, the third year is an industrial placement year where students will spend a year away from university in a real life working experience. The placement role applied for tends to be in line with the degree, this gives students an advantage in their final year.
Here are some tips for placement applications:
1. Apply to many places
Yes there might be that favourite company that we all want to work for, but it is advisable to start your placement applications with others companies instead of your dream one. This helps you iron out any weak points. By the time you get to your third application or so, you will be more familiar with application procedures and will be able to battle through applications and assessment centres like a pro!
2. Apply early
In second year, students tend to think they have a whole year ahead of them to apply for placements. Think again! By the time university commences, coursework, exams, and extracurricular activities or even part time jobs will start to fill up your schedule and soon applying for placements might not feel like a number one priority. Start searching for placement opportunities in the summer, make a note of when your favourite companies open their applications, and draft out cover letters. As some companies operate on a first come first serve basis (like PwC), do not wait until the last day before applications close to send yours in, the role might have already been filled up.
3. Make each application count
Some might be tempted to draft out a standard cover letter and attach it to all placement applications but this is a huge mistake. A cover letter should place emphasis on why you are suitable for this role and the reason for applying to the specific company. A good tip to remember is to look out for key skills listed in the job offer and provide a good example on how/when you demonstrated this skill.
4. Make use of the careers services
The university’s careers services is there for a reason – to help you land your dream job! While you are still at university, do remember to take advantage of the careers services. Career guidance appointments usually last 30 minutes and you can get advice on job applications – I printed out my application and brought it in with me. Mock interviews are also available here, this can be useful for preparation before the real interview
5. Don’t give up, hard work pays off
Receiving the first rejection letter can be difficult. Receiving countless rejection letters however can either make you quit, or make you work harder. Hopefully it will be the latter. I like to think that receiving that first ‘no’ is a good experience because it has only motivated me to work harder for my next applications rather than give up. Don’t be disheartened when your application is rejected as the company needs to ensure that they are suitable for you as much as you are suitable for them. In other words you may be successful and possess the relevant technical skills, but you might still be rejected if they feel that you do not fit their corporate culture type.
Also some companies will give you a full time job offer if you have impressed them throughout the placement year. This will be a big help by removing the pressure of securing a job in your final year at university, allowing you to prioritise coursework and exams.
Last of all, enjoy the placement year as much as you can! It is a change from university life and it is an experience I am thoroughly grateful for.