A placement is an awesome year out of university where you don’t have to think about exams or studying, and you get to sleep all day (lol, I wish).
Albeit a sometimes daunting experience, placements are an amazing opportunity to take time out of education, hopefully save (or spend) some money while gaining key skills, in real life working situations. As a bonus – most placements are paid! *hooray*
Securing a placement however – especially those that are highly sought after – is not a quick or easy task, and applications tend to be mind numbingly tedious. Don’t panic though, I have some top tips to help you along…
1. Start early! – I really can not stress this enough, competition is fierce and you do not want to get left behind.
2. Have your CV completed and checked by the placement team (or someone with experience) before the end of your first year. Two reasons for this: a) the placement team are less busy so they can look through your CV throughly and really help you tailor it (note: they will not do all the work for you) b) you can begin searching for opportunities in the summer – including researching the companies you wish to work for. Which leads me to my next point…
3. Do your research – there is nothing worse than: a) working for a company you know nothing about b) looking like a deer in headlights when the interviewer asks what you know about the company/recent updates/why you wish you work for that company/ why the role with them etc… d) being stuck in a job/working for a company you don’t actually like/agree with for an entire year! (tip: If the company has a progress report of some sort – read it! yes it’s long and boring, but if you spread it over a week or two it’s a piece of cake. In most cases, the information in this will basically answer all the questions they could possibly ask)
4. Be honest – nothing good comes out of lying, you will get caught and it will ruin your integrity. Remember: you never know when/where you are going to meet the interviewer again, neither do you know their connections. It’s not worth the risk.
5. CV fillers – please please please do not waste your time at university, do something productive/things that make you stand out. Fill your CV with reasons to be hired – join clubs, societies, take on a part time jobs – anything that can be used as evidence for the skills you claim to have.
6. Experience – this is key. There is no substitute for good, quality experience – not only does it lend credence to your abilities, it is also a learning curve. You can not claim to be good at time management, when the only thing you really manage is your university timetable. Bring a bit more than the average person, even if it is a week here, or two weeks there – no experience is invaluable.
7. Be passionate and genuine – do not be afraid to show your passion, don’t be afraid of coming on too strong. Be genuine and the rest will fall in place.
8. Be prepared! – google, google, google. Competency questions, common interview questions, unlikely questions, likely questions, questions synonymous with that particular company – go above and beyond.
9. Eye contact – give the interviewer eye contact. Display signs that you are paying attention, nod along. Give an ‘hmm’ here and there, little things that tell the interviewer you genuinely want to be there. Eye contact is attached with a whole host of signs that show your interest.
10. Follow up with an email – this is a personal choice but I will always advise it. Although it may seem a tad forward to you, it could be the difference between you getting hired over another candidate. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, a line or two thanking the interviewer for their time could go a long way.
I hope that these tips were helpful, if you need anything else/have any questions, don’t be scared to tweet me! Thank you for reading dolls and gents, best of luck! xo