Some of my classmates were very fortunate to be offered the first placement they applied for, this was not the case for me. I decided I wanted to spend a year away from the Emerald Isle and after a long list of rejections, I landed my placement on May 11th 2017 and made my move to London less than 6 weeks later to work for Warner Bros. as the European Publicity Intern. Through this process as well as my year in industry I picked up on a number of tips that I hope anxious 2nd years will find useful.
A Top-Notch CV
As a final year student I can’t claim to know everything there is to know about writing the best CV, but after being majorly included in the recruitment of my successor, attending information meetings from HR and talking to industry professionals, I was able to pick up some great tips that I hope to pass on to anyone reading who is currently applying for placement roles.
It’s pretty much the first bullet point on every talk or presentation you will receive on writing a CV and it seems stupidly obvious but spelling and grammar is everything. You could be top of your class, have amazing experience and speak 3 languages but still manage to spell the name of your course wrong. Everybody makes mistakes, and if you’ve read over your CV 20 times you’ll likely no longer notice them. Get a friend, a parent or a careers advisor to have a read and you’ll be surprised at some of the things they’ll notice that you hadn’t. Employers go through 100s of CV sometimes, and if enough mistakes have been made they’ll get frustrated and most likely stop reading.
Experience is key, whether this is working in your local shop or in an office over the summer, every job will provide you with transferable skills. While you may not have experience in your desired industry, any work experience is definitely better than no work experience. Employers are aware that at age 19/20 you won’t have led your own PR campaign and some even prefer to see the typical part-time jobs such as waitressing as it shows an ability to work with people within a stressful environment. If you have the chance to gain relevant work experience you definitely should, whether this is with your friend’s uncle’s cousin or through an opportunity provided through university, say yes to as many experiences as possible to beef out your CV. I volunteered to do PR for a charity in Belfast and in my interview this was commended as taking on unpaid work showed a passion for the job I was doing.
One woman told me that if applicants don’t have relevant experience she would look at their hobbies and interests to see if they displayed a particular interest in the industry. I thought this was great advice as not everyone has the means to get experience but could be the perfect candidate for the job. So whether you’ve recently attended a talk about women in technology, you go to the cinema once a week or you write a blog for your university, these small factors show a genuine interest as well as make you seem more knowledgeable about the industry you’re working in.
Following the companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn and Twitter is a great way of keeping up-to-date with the opportunities available as well as the projects the companies are working on. My employers were unsuccessful at finding a candidate at their first assessment day and decided to re-advertise the job, had I not been following @warnerbrosplacements on Twitter I may never have spotted the opportunity as the first deadline for all placements was in December. Additionally, you might find the chance to discuss something you noticed on LinkedIn in your cover letter, application or interview which shows you’re interested and staying updated with the company’s activities.
“What’s for you won’t pass you”- this motto became so ingrained in my life that I was sure it was going to be written on my gravestone. My parents, friends and classmates all told me this every time I received a rejection that at times it became hard to hear. I would advise everyone not to get disheartened by rejections but to learn from them and ask yourself what you could do better or what you could do differently. Staying positive is key and while at times it may seem like it will never happen, you will eventually secure a placement and gain invaluable experience beyond what you’ve ever learned in the lecture hall.
Roisin Watters is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/roisin-watters-661a03a6/, and on Twitter @Roisin_Watters