My 5 top tips to applying for a placement
This week sees me reaching the halfway mark of my placement year with Morrow Communications – time flies when you’re having fun! It really is hard to think of how it felt to vigorously prepare for interview after interview and to be told (if even) ‘you have been unsuccessful’.
I went in a little hot with my search for a placement. Having built up my experience in PR and event work over the past 5-6 years, I felt confident and looked forward to the process. But if anything, this was a huge wake-up call and somewhat prepared me for the real world!
For anyone out there who is in the process of either applying for a placement or on the fence on whether to do one, I have a few tips that might make the decision/ process a little easier for you.
Here are my top 5 tips for your placement search that you maybe never thought of before – regardless of your industry!
- If you can do a placement, DO IT!
Being two or so years older than my peers in uni and seeing my friends already on the road to graduation, I always had it in my head not to do a placement. I felt it would hold me back from my aspirations of travelling and thought that I was already too far behind. Realistically, everyone has a different path! But I’m so glad I took the time to think about my decision in a rational way. Here’s just a few of the benefits I have seen so far from doing a placement:
Networking – You have no idea how important this is! It takes just one conversation with someone to spark a relationship, and you have no idea how that person can impact your future! So, get yourself out there. This job has provided me with a platform to meet some well-known clients. It has also allowed me to grow relationships with the media and help me step out of my comfort zone.
Learning on the job – Although the book side of uni is so important, it’s also vital to get ‘on the job’ knowledge of how things operate. Even how professionals within the workplace carry out day-to-day roles. I may only be here a year, but the past 6 months have taught me more than any book or journal ever could.
Confidence – I would consider myself to be a pretty confident person. But coming into placement put me in a bit of an uncomfortable position. Office life was new to me. But that didn’t last long! My confidence has come along so well since beginning placement. From speaking with clients to handling myself in a work environment and within meetings. All these things can be taken anywhere with me!
- Preparation is key – but don’t overdo it!
To be honest, I have been lucky in the past in terms of interviews – in that I haven’t had to do many! And those I have done have been quite informal. One thing I did learn is that one interview will be totally different to the next. Learn about the organisation, the way it works and some of the clients they deal with. Keep an eye on the biz within your industry! It’s cool to know the current news. But more so, learn about you! Know yourself inside out, key roles you’ve played, opportunities you have taken. Understand yourself in a way that you will be equipped to answer any question an employer throws your way, making your answer relevant to your experience.
- Follow your heart and no one else’s
We live in a world where people want to impress others and not always for their own benefit! You won’t get to repeat your placement year, so make the most of it. Although it can be easy to fall for the best paid placement, the chance to travel or maybe even what your parents/family/friends will say, take a good look at what you are applying for and make sure it will be worth your while. Make sure it is something you will totally benefit from. Look for a challenge. Placement is an opportunity to test you as a student and grow you as a young professional!
- Been accepted, but not fully happy?
If you get to an interview and feel like it maybe wasn’t what you expected, don’t be afraid to decline the opportunity if you get offered the place, or to go to the next stage of the process. I found myself in the scenario of getting to the final stages of the application process and not being fully happy. If you have any doubts just listen to your gut. The right one will come along!
- What’s for you won’t go by you
Doing around 5-6 interviews took its toll on me and I started to get a little down in the dumps about it! Don’t get yourself down about being unsuccessful. If anything, use it as ammunition to do better the next time! Sometimes it’s more about the type of person the organisation feels will suit them best and not about your performance. If you can ask for feedback, do! This will give you the chance to see where you went wrong. I am a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. So, if you don’t get the placement you initially wanted, it can only mean something better is waiting down the line, believe me!
If you are currently going through the process of searching for a placement – good luck! And if you take anything from this piece, let it be ‘what’s for you won’t go by you’ 😊!
Émer Stinson is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on placement at Morrow Communications. She can be found on Twitter: @StinsonEmer and on Instagram: @emerstinson