Placement, In Retrospect

Everyone’s placement journey is different, for some of us we may find our dream job in one interview and for others, it may take several bottles of Rescue Remedy and endless nights on Glass

What I learnt from the placement process is the most important thing you have to market is yourself, or how about, #SWOTYourself?


Yes, we all did well in our A Levels, we’re here for that reason – we work hard, but we are not homogenous. Each of us offers something unique to future employers, some of us know what that is and some of us don’t but if the fit is right for you, your placement will be your match.

Try your best not to let your nerves get the best of you – excel in your strengths and your ability to communicate your ideas on why you are the best match for the prospective placement.


My name’s Olivia McKearney and I completed six placement interviews; the first 1-4 were train wrecks. I prepped for each for them, had pages of notes of buzz words memorised but when I sat in front of the panel, everything was forgotten. I stuttered answers even though I knew I was more than capable to answer those questions.


After each politely worded rejection I gave up for a few months, I applied for a final two placements and gave myself the ultimatum that if I didn’t get them I would go straight to final year – which is a completely worthy path but not the one I had planned to pursue.

On a Wednesday in May I had my fifth interview and I went in with one thing that had been absent from disasters 1-4, Confidence. I wasn’t intimidated anymore by the people across the table, I was able to converse with them because I knew the answers, and I didn’t need memorised statements.

The next day, I had my sixth interview. That afternoon, I was offered both placements and chose to accept McKeevers Chemists based in my home county of Armagh. You wait for a bus and two come at once.

Don’t become disillusioned, it will work out.


These prospective employers are here to give us opportunities to succeed, they wouldn’t have advertised the role if they didn’t want us, we’ll be taken seriously and treated professionally. I can only speak to my own experience when I say I received an unprecedented amount of opportunities on this year. From event planning, social media influencer outreach and content creation, this year provided the building blocks to my future career.

Don’t let anyone look down on your chosen placement, I have had, and still have people question the experience of what you can “really” achieve in a local company – check out my CV.

Some people remain largely ignorant to the effects of marketing, but not us as students, take every opportunity you can.


The obvious threat is that of competition amongst fellow students. We’ve faced that our entire educational career and it’s not going anywhere. As I said, you are unique as a person, better yourself and let employers see the real you across the desk – don’t let the biggest threat to success be you.

Placement was a pivotal year for me; I become financially stable and massively independent;

  • I travelled the West Coast of America for three weeks with my best friend.
  • I made my way to Budapest for a once in a lifetime music festival.
  • I realised the career path I want to endeavour and enhance my skills at.
  • I made wonderful friends and connections.
  • I achieved my own personal KPIs and know that I am more than capable and deserve my standing in the future of Communications.
  • I made myself proud.

If I can do it, you can too.


Olivia McKearney is a Final Year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn at  



An eye opener to the ‘REAL WORLD’ of work

Applying for a placement year next year? One thought on your mind, scared??

Hearing people in class going to America, London, Spain, Dublin you name it… Little old me sitting there thinking is Armagh too far away for me to travel??? (Thinking about this now, I laugh a LOT)

Having so much at home, family, friends etc I lived in a little bubble of my own, I couldn’t bare thinking about down south at the time never mind overseas! (Serious regret…. I advise to go as FAR away as you can!!)


I was lucky to apply to my first placement, receive an interview and successfully get it, which isn’t always the case. If you don’t get accepted to your first placement don’t worry for ‘everything happens for a reason’. I learned this the hard way recently and I am still trying to discover the reason!

Whether it be deciding to go into final year without a placement year, a gap year to find yourself, a placement year you despise or a placement year you enjoy and potentially secure a future job with, ‘what is for you won’t go passed you’.

I spent my placement year in McKeevers Chemists, with the most amazing, inspirational woman. At the start the only thing the pair of us had in common was getting dressed up! (Ironic as I am a shopaholic)

Off I went in July, day one, this quiet little girl who sat by the window in the office (I usually can’t sit still or quiet unless there is circumstances). The office was that quiet you could literally hear a pin drop… I lasted about a month.

Monthly meetings began with my manager, I spilled the beans on the first meeting, why does nobody talk?? I explained how I wanted to be more involved, I wanted to get to know this quiet and intelligent woman who sat beside me (my manager), I wanted to get out and about to the different stores, organise events etc after all this is why we choose a sandwich course to get the placement experience!

Safe to say the manager was delighted to hear my response! My main concern was bringing Christmas cheer as you can see below, I had to get Santa to appear!!


To think now within a year, I learned SO much about myself as an individual as well as learning so much about the marketing sector as a marketing assistant.

To top it off I have without a shadow of a doubt made a friend for life, and I truly mean this, I would call this woman my angel in disguise!!


To all the second years considering a placement year next year, my advice to you would be look further than your front door, for that is my only regret of my third year choices! Yes, I absolutely loved my placement hands down, and I have learned SO much which I will benefit in the future. Looking back now, I had so many possible opportunities to experience, to name a few, different countries, cultures, languages etc you name it! AND I chose to stay at home!

I advise as a final year student now to;

***Be yourself***

There is only one you, and no other person is like you, and I am sure you are an amazing Individual!

My daddy always says, ‘if there was another Breige, there would be a hell lot of trouble’


‘you don’t have to do anything but die’.

These two quotes really make me realise, if you are not happy in one place, there is another place full of people waiting to meet you!

Wherever next year may take you, I hope you smash it!

Breige Hollywood is a final year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at Twitter @ HollywoodBreige