It was the first day back to uni and I was into second year of studying Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Jordanstown. I knew the daunting process of applying for placement awaited me this year however, I did not expect a full debrief from my placement coordinator Conor McGrath on the matter on my first day back (bearing in mind this was first thing in the morning during Freshers week).
I slowly began to realise during this lecture that come summer time I wouldn’t be texting my friends asking to do stuff; I would be working 5 days a week, which I had never done before. However, a tiny part of me was excited and I suddenly felt (kind of) like an adult.
Conor warned us that our email inboxes were going to be bombarded with placement advertisements from him, the majority of them being across the water. This made me feel anxious because there were roughly only 30-40 placements in Northern Ireland and the rest were in England so I didn’t know where my fate lay. I had many questions in my head “Why can’t we be assigned a placement?”, “What if I get rejected or don’t get an offer at all?” And I can guarantee I wasn’t the only one who was or still is, thinking this.
I tried to put the subject of placement to the back of mind – until 20 minutes after I left that classroom and the emails began flooding my phone screen. As John Green said in The Fault in Our Stars, “Like falling asleep: Slowly and then all at once”, this is the only way I can describe the emails.
Building a CV
I knew the competition was going to be fierce so eventually I began preparing my CV. I had barely any experience in Marketing and PR as my last two jobs were in hospitality, what was actually going to set me apart from everyone? From using tools like V Mock (It gave me A LOT of criticism which I was glad of) to reading a blog by Orlagh Shanks (a PR student at Liverpool John Moores University), I tried to make my CV sound and look the best it could be.
Conor reinforced to only apply to placements that sparked interest. I wasn’t going to apply for a placement at BMW – what did I know about cars? I wasn’t interested in communications so I avoided that field and focused on Marketing and PR. It was around October time when I saw an ad for a Marketing role in Belfast at a company known as ‘Your Body Map’. I was intrigued by the name so I read further into the description of the business and the role being advertised. I read the words ‘Software platform’, ‘Health and Beauty businesses’ and ‘online’ and was interested right away. I knew this was the sector I wanted to gain experience in and this could be the perfect opportunity.
Things were about to get serious…
I sent my CV to the employer and about a week later I received an email that I was being invited for an interview. I honestly couldn’t believe it. This was one of the three applications I had sent so far and my first interview. After the disbelief and excitement settled, I began to get nervous. I had been to interviews before but nothing as formal as I imagined this one was going to be. In order to prepare for an interview I would advise:
- Do a lot of research into the company
- Prepare typical questions that your CV might raise – The night before my interview my friend Bronagh attempted to run through some questions with me but we both couldn’t take each other seriously if I’m honest.
- And be prepared for the unexpected (lol I was asked what my ideal superpower would be)
The morning arrived and I dressed smartly and headed to the office. As I waited in the front foyer the butterflies in my stomach got worse, I hadn’t felt this nervous since I was waiting to hear if I had passed my driving test or not. I was brought through to a room and there I sat in front of a panel of CEO’s. I began telling them about myself and responding to a series of questions which put me at ease as the panel was extremely nice and NORMAL – I think everyone assumes an interview panel are going to be scary and intimidating but they really weren’t.
The interview lasted roughly 20 minutes and I left it feeling relieved, content and hopeful. I really liked this company and if I got offered a placement there I knew I would be happy. The following week I received an email from one of the CEO’s; I read the first line on the preview “Hi Shauna, following your interview on Friday…” I felt sick. Was I about to get rejected or actually succeed? I opened the email and scanned to see my fate. I had actually got it; I couldn’t believe that the first interview I done, I succeeded in!
What am I doing now?
Fast forward to where I am now, I started working one day a week for Your Body Map in November which I think has helped me massively as it has eased me in slowly and made me feel comfortable. We are currently transitioning to ‘Aubergine’, a really exciting project that is launching in April so keep your eyes peeled as students will love it. My role consists of market research and managing/writing social media content which has allowed me to gain new skills alongside my studies. I have met so many new people within the company and outside it. Placement isn’t so daunting after all!
For anyone who is yet to receive a placement offer or is awaiting a response, do not panic. Make use of the resources to build your CV and be yourself in the interview. I doubted myself and my ability a lot but it worked out in the end – like it does for everyone. I just kept telling myself ‘What’s for you won’t go by you’ and it was true!
Thanks for reading X
Shauna McKillop is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @ShaunaMcKillop – LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/shauna-mckillop-499596176 – Instagram: shaunamckillopx