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.

Mark



The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.

Hello,

My name is Mark and I am on my placement year at Canon. I work in the Consumer Imaging Group (CIG), product-marketing department. I am the product business developer for accessories and the creative photo printer SELPHY.
 
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky

Canon (UK) Ltd is the UK marketing and sales operation for the global company - Canon Inc. - based in Tokyo, Japan. It is a company rich in culture and tradition but one that exudes quality in the cameras it produces and the loyal customers it supplies.

Getting to grips with one of the world’s best-known brands in 6 months has been the largest challenge in my life to date. In my first week, I was involved in Canon Campus, an event created to ease integration of Océ (A Netherlands-based company that develops, manufactures and sells printing and copying hardware and related software), a recent acquisition by the Canon group. Now, do you think I managed to understand a business on the size and scale of Canon in my first week, probably about 1%? Not event that.

That is why this placement year is invaluable.

6 months down the line; the amount of lessons - like most parents, lecturers and graduates will tell you – have prepared me for the world after Aston.

From attending to the needs of the most loyal Canon customers at some of the UK’s biggest events e.g. London Fashion Week, to meeting with the buyers at some of the UK’s largest retailers e.g. John Lewis and Jessops, whilst travelling the country with Canon Professional Services to demonstrate the Canon Pro Photographic and Cinema equipment to professional customers, the experiences you take away from the year (These are just a snapshot of my first 6 months) are priceless. 


(The sky from Canon UK - Woodhatch, Surrey - December 2013)

(The sky from Canon UK - Woodhatch, Surrey - December 2013)


(A photo I took at London Fashion Week - September 2013)
My placement is allowing me to learn one thing straight from the off, autonomy. Managing myself, going after opportunities each day to grow a product group, networking within and outside the business; all key responsibilities that any future career in business requires.

One last note, keep an open mind throughout the year, you never know what will be thrown at you, and you never know of the great experiences that may come from it. (That profile photo was taken on a Canon experience day, and I hate spiders. Face your fears).

(A photo I took at London Fashion Week - September 2013)

My placement is allowing me to learn one thing straight from the off, autonomy. Managing myself, going after opportunities each day to grow a product group, networking within and outside the business; all key responsibilities that any future career in business requires.

One last note, keep an open mind throughout the year, you never know what will be thrown at you, and you never know of the great experiences that may come from it. (That profile photo was taken on a Canon experience day, and I hate spiders. Face your fears).