Searching for a placement; it’s not all blue skies.
Back in October 2012, I made a start on the placement search.
If it wasn’t University emails warning me of deadlines for employers then it was the lecturers piling placement advice (Useful, very useful) on top of the mountain of guidance and recommendations from ratemyplacement.com etc.
Very quickly, I was overwhelmed with information.
This information, some useful, some not so much, did make me actively find placements I could see myself filling the role of. From supply chain, to research assistant, to marketing. The spectrum of jobs is quite staggering.
Soon enough, I had made the choice that supply chain was the role for me, with a few 2nd year modules fitting the bill and an interest in logistics, I went gung-ho. I applied to all the major corporations starting with the FMCG companies, Unilever and P&G, then to the brands L’Oreal and Intel.
[Make sure your cover letter and CV is tailored to the company you are applying for. It is the most basic of rules but you do hear about cover letters including the names of different companies, so check and check again.]
Once the applications are sent, the waiting game is the worst part. Did I get through the initial stage? Should I have mentioned something different? Then you think refreshing your inbox every hour will do the trick. We’ve all been there.
Huge corporations like the above get thousands upon thousands of applications so obviously it takes time to sift through. I applied to Unilever back in October and got notified of a telephone interview in December, 3 months later…
Research is key for telephone interviews, they’ll be able to sniff out the ones that don’t.
40 minutes after the telephone interview began and I finally hang up the phone, hands clammy and throat dry, you need a cup of tea. Then you will start thinking, why did I ask the interviewer how she was 4 times…all of it is nerves, my first professional telephone interview. DONE.
All of it is a learning curve.
I heard back on New Year’s Eve to say I was being invited to an assessment centre in January. I think I drank well that night.
January comes around; I’m in my suit, last worn for the business game presentations. We’ve all been there.
The Unilever offices are like a playground, a Ben & Jerry’s store serving free ice cream, a hairdressers, a spa, a gym. Instantly, I was envisioning sitting at my desk.
Then the tests began and the interviews were underway, 9-5 of rigorous questioning, presenting and competing for the job.
I didn’t get it.
The news was a huge dent in my search. First thoughts, ‘Didn’t want a spa anyway…’ but it only drives you harder to get that placement.
From January through to April, I applied to 35+ companies, getting to another assessment centre with L’Oreal. Another rejection.
Then came the month of May.
Exams are round the corner, I still hadn’t found a placement, Gosta Green was a comforting friend.
Suddenly I had a 3rd assessment day with Boots, I got it. Supply Chain. I was on cloud 9.
8 months of searching and I had got one. I think I went to Mechu that night.
However other companies were now calling me asking for assessment days, firstly the Discovery Channel and then Canon.
So my parents said it would be a good experience for me to look at a marketing role, plus it was 10 minutes from home. So I went for the assessment day at Canon.
I got it too.
Placements seemed like London buses at this point.
I spent a day glued to my phone asking all manner of people for advice, from flatmates, to parents, to sibling, to girlfriend, to personal tutor, probably the gym instructor too. What should I do?
Boots was the safe option; Canon was the risky, but potentially more rewarding. I chose Canon. And I haven’t looked back.
Marketing is definitely for me, and the exposure I have to all the departments at a multi-national company, the 35th biggest brand in the world currently, is developing my skills for the business world.
This placement year is priceless.
Don’t give up, even in your darkest hour. Employers will appreciate that.
Good luck in your quest.