I’m Back.

What to write about? It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, writing about my deepest darkest secrets. And my ideas for my first blog post are lacking. But hopefully the more I write, the more creative juices will just flow from my fingertips to my keyboard.

So ~building suspense~ as my first blog post back, I am going to write about placement. You’ve probably just been knocked off from your seat. Shocked by the creativity of a third year CAM student. Writing about placement.

I was going to be one of those students that gives you monthly updates placement, but I didn’t feel I had the expertise or experience to give you monthly updates. But, I’m 8 months in now and boy, have I gained experience. So here’s my take from placement, with only a few months left.

Don’t Stress // Now, those of you know me are thinking ‘how can Alex tell me not to stress?’ And yes, this is true, I stress when I am running low on milk, so you can imagine the stress a hunt for a placement position brought. This time last year, I received another decline, with the hope of an interview (never mind a job offer) quickly seeming further from my grasp.

I’m sure there are many of you in the same position and don’t stress about it – apply for jobs you are genuinely excited about and in the meantime perfect your CV, write a killer cover letter and gain experience wherever you can to bulk up that LinkedIn Bio.

It’s all about your attitude // ‘What’s for you, won’t pass you’. I remember I was first told this by my Mum and it’s a saying that has really stuck with me. Now 5 weeks into Semester 2, receiving your 900th placement email and with 3 assignment deadlines approaching, this attitude is hard to maintain. I understand that struggle.

But do stay positive, rejections are hard to get over, but you should see them as a learning curve – how can you improve your CV? What techniques can you use in your next interview? Was your cover letter as well-researched and unique as you once thought? Remember, that interview, call back or job offer will come at a time you will least expect it.

Be in the know // Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, we are spoilt on how we can stay connected with industry updates, leaders and campaigns. Whilst I received an email about my position, I first saw it on LinkedIn and without seeing the post, I don’t know if I ever would have applied. I was able to see what the company was up to, who worked there and the company’s culture.

Acting like an MI5 agent and doing a background check on the company that has invited you in for an interview will put you in a strong position. It will show initiative by researching the company and communicate a passion for their activities. So, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile by now, get one, you might sign up and stumble upon a job advert that interests you.

I feel like three hints for the placement process is enough, so I’ll give some advice on what I have learnt on placement so far. And I think the best way to start this, is share what I do, I work at Intel Ireland, holding the position of Media and Education Intern. I could write a whole blog post on what I’ll do, but I’ll leave that for my placement report and upload that to Turnitin rather than here. But in the short, I love it and with final year getting closer and closer, time can slow down.

Don’t take uni for granted // For those studying CAM like me, we have been blessed with a course that is max 12hrs a week, with Monday’s and Friday’s off, enjoy this time. It can seem like a lot with the various assignments, placement emails and simply functioning, but enjoy it. When placement hits, you’ll be working 40hrs a week, with only your evenings to do as you please, rather than finishing at 1pm and feeling like you still have the whole day. 

Placement should be enjoyable // Placement is hard, I’ve learnt that from first hand experience, you’re thrown in the deep-end and suddenly you have responsibilities that matter and have an affect on other people. But this is all a learning curve and you should (hopefully) be enjoying it. You will be working on projects related to your course, working with people who may have your dream job and working for a company you would love to return to. Appreciate your placement opportunity, enjoy it and see it as a chance to learn and develop your skill-set.

So, there you have it – a very small portion of advice relating to placement, take it or leave, these are just my learnings.

And if you’ve learnt nothing, you now know I stress when I’m low on milk.

Alex Slaine is a Third Year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. He is currently working as Media and Education Intern at Intel Ireland on his placement year. He can be found on Twitter – @alexslainee; and LinkedIn – Alex Slaine

Placement Panic

 

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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.

Applying 

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)

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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?

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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

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

To anyone who has clicked on this post thinking that I’m pregnant or that I am offering pregnancy advice, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. But thanks for clicking. I’m actually writing about what to expect when you’re expecting a placement, so if this may help you, please stay tuned.

When I was applying to placement (after placement, after placement) I had the mindset that I would pick a few I liked, apply, they’d love me and I’d get the job. Well, it wasn’t as big-headed or far-fetched as that but you can understand how straightforward I expected it to be. You might be in a similar mindset so I’m here to give you more of a realistic expectation to how applying for placement really works and what you should expect.

 

  1. FEELING CLUELESS

Your placement year is something you’ve known about when choosing your course, starting your course, during your whole first year and yet when second year comes around and you realise that you need to get a placement you feel utterly offended that no one had mentioned this to you or helped you with this yet.SD1

So in your best attempt to overcome complete cluelessness, you should attend a class regarding placement guidelines or at least try to keep up to date with emails. If you’re still feeling clueless, don’t worry, everyone is. At this stage it’s important to ask for help. This could be with your CV, a meeting with your careers department or even just asking people in your class.

Understanding the whole equation of everything involved in a placement takes time. Do not worry. Your clueless hours of thinking “what?” on repeat will end and you will start to get your head around what is expected.

  1. INFORMATION OVERLOAD

When checking your emails and employability portal for placement opportunities, you will quickly come to realise the vast number of placements that are actually available. There are specific key months when every placement ever seems to be open at once and you could spend days reading about the job description, the company, etc. This is overwhelming. This is information overload.

My advice in this instance is this; in your attempt to filter through the never-ending list of placements, do not rule out placements just because you haven’t heard of the company. Take time to explore the company’s website, learn about their culture and research exactly what your role will be. The time taken will be worth it and you may even be at an advantage over the huge influx of people applying to the big names. Just because they’re bigger, doesn’t mean they’re better.

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  1. NO INVESTMENT, NO RETURN

From the above, you should now realise that applying for placements isn’t just a few clicks and uploads. In my opinion, it’s the applications that are the hardest part and after that it’s a matter of waiting for replies and then preparing for interviews. But you can only really relax and enjoy the latter if you actually put time and effort into each of your applications. Each application is different. Don’t use the same cover letter with a few different words changed (trust me, they’ll notice). It’s important to understand that no two roles are the same so your applications shouldn’t be.

If you don’t invest the effort, you are highly unlikely to get anything in return. It took me three hideous applications to realise this and looking back I can’t believe I questioned why employers weren’t tripping over each other to offer me an interview when in reality they probably blacklisted my CV.

  1. TIME, TIME, PRECIOUS TIME

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If you’re second year at university, the likelihood is that your time mostly revolves around sleeping, drinking, going out, being hungover, thinking about what will make you feel less hungover, thinking your hangover is over then realising it was just the start, eating, going to university, being on your phone and on occasion, doing work for university. And in this jam-packed schedule, where on earth is the time to apply for placements?! * The truth is you have to make time. There’s no cheats or fast routes, it takes time and you need to make the time no matter what other commitments you have, drinking included. Even if you try setting out two days in the week to focus specifically on research and applications for the placements you want, it will really help.

At the start, expect to be bewildered at how it took you two and a half hours to write your CV profile section and blown away at the fact that it still sounds like the first one you read off Google and did your best not to copy. The more time you put into it, the better it will be and you’ll be constantly tweaking and fixing bits to end up with an application you’re happy with. But please, don’t underestimate the time it takes. It’s probably the most important thing for you to take from this whole piece if you take anything at all.

*Apologies to anyone who does not have the student time-schedule as the one mentioned above. I’m sorry that I stereotypically profiled you under a student experience umbrella based on what I’m used to. Well done for being studious, the rest of us envy you a lot.

  1. GETTING GHOSTED

This is probably the most infuriating thing that you should expect. And also very, very common. Expect long waits of thinking, “no I’ve definitely got this one, no point applying anywhere else, this is the one” and proceeding to find out someone else in your class got the role last week. As far as I was aware, there’s no procedures in place that say employers have to let you know if you’ve been rejected. And on the off chance that you are an employer and you’re reading this, please let a student know if they haven’t been successful in their applications, it’s polite and really helpful. So expect to be ghosted and my advice in this instance would be to set a realistic time limit before moving on and trying your best at your next application. It can be really disheartening but it’s just what you’ve got to do.

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Thank you if you’ve made it to the end and have actually read the full thing. I hope it helps you if you’re in the position of applying to placements or if you’re on placement/have been on placement, I hope you can relate to the struggle. Also, it’s not all doom and gloom and once you’ve gotten your placement you feel amazing and have such a massive opportunity ahead of you, but that’s all for another post!

 

Scout Dobbin is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on placement as a Marketing Assistant. Scout can be found on Linkedin – Scout Dobbin ; Twitter – @scoutdobbin ; Instagram – @scoutdobbin

An Average Blog – More or Less

So, as you have probably read on several other blogs within this site, the whole my name is ____ I am studying ____ and basically only posting on here because my lecturer told me to do so in order to achieve my grade in his or her module. I don’t think anyone will actually admit that but we are here now, so buckle up.

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Fresh out of a riveting lecture on my dissertation on a chilly Friday morning at Jordanstown campus, unsure of what I actually wanted to write about I thought it would be a good idea to write about myself.

If you are still with me at this point I commend you, I will admit my vocabulary isn’t overly diverse or sophisticated. Having read some other blogs, I think if I use big words I will get a higher mark, photosynthesis.

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Having completed GCSE and A-Level (which seems like an eternity ago) I had the option to part ways with education and work for my father in his shipping company. Making which I would consider decent money for my age and maybe even getting a split of the profits without having to put myself into debt. I did not at the time see this as a very attractive option for some reason, so I opted for a place at university. Thinking back on it I do sit and wonder if I did the right thing, others that were in my class at school went travelling, moved to the other side of the world, had children and some even work in the local cinema. Dreamers.

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The first two academic years of university are over me and counted for absolutely nothing. All the stress and worry about assignment deadlines and exams seems a bit silly right now because now in final year I suppose I am in “the business end of the season”. Keeping the football analogy going, it’s week 3 and I just conceded a first half penalty, down to 10 men and the referee seems to be against me. If you aren’t into football talk I’m basically saying I am finding it difficult.

Last summer my girlfriend and I traveled around Europe for 16 days, this really opened my eyes to how big the world is. It made me wonder if I had chosen the correct pathway in my life, surely there has to be more to life than sweating out a dissertation or sitting in heavy traffic at 8:30am to arrive in late to a 9:15 lecture that I don’t have a lot of interest in listening to. Maybe there isn’t and I’m just a dreamer, your guess is at good as mine at this point.

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Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, stripes and outdoor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were over half way through our travels, staying in a campsite near Venice when I had received the long-awaited phone call to say I was offered an interview for my optional 3rd year placement. The interview was going to take place the morning after I got home, me being me I wasn’t overly on the ball researching the company for the interview because I was inter railing around Europe “living my best life”, enjoying myself and experiencing new things with someone I care about.

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Once I landed in Dublin airport I got the bus back to Belfast and stayed with my granny. My mother had my suit prepared and I researched the company when on the way home as my girlfriend drooled on my shoulder exhausted from endless hours of travelling.

I don’t want to keep you here all day, but I got the placement. I spent six months working for this company in South Belfast as a “Communications and Public Relations Officer”, a very big title for a pretty medium sized guy.

I really enjoyed several aspects of this placement opportunity, however it was a big culture shock going into a professional office environment for the first time. The work load at the start wasn’t really a problem because my colleagues didn’t really expect too much of me.

But soon after I had started I got my “big boy pants” for lack of a better Image result for captain underpantsdescription. I knew the company, traveled around the different offices, met with several directors and managers, attended events and I feel that I grew up a lot in such a short amount of time simply because I had no choice. This is why I feel that doing a placement was absolutely fantastic for me, I got a lot out of it and it helped me think about what I want to do once I graduate.

Yes of course I want to do well in life whatever avenue I decide to go down, but I think it is even more important to be happy with what you are doing. Maybe I will get a very professional job as a Public Relations Practitioner or even a Marketing Executive. Maybe I’ll go on to work in Politics, or maybe at the end of these 90 minutes I’ll take it to extra time try to sneak the win on penalties.Image result for man united win on penalties

 

Eoin Crossan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eoin-crossan-848a30171/

Placement Year: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Each year, a number of Ulster University students are given the opportunity to leave the comfort and safety of their cosy, convenience-filled university existence to go out into the big bad world of work as part of their studies to get the much-sought after experience they’ll need for life after education.

I’m currently in my final year of studying Communication Management and Public Relations and as part of my course I was offered the opportunity to be one of those students. I’ll be honest, when I first heard about it I thought ‘no way’, working life is not for me yet and I want to just power through with my studies and get final year done.

But, as the weeks went on I got more information, heard more success stories and invested some time researching the benefits. It became hard to justify not taking the opportunity. After all, research has shown that the average salaries of those who do placement is 8% higher than those who don’t. Money talks.  My classmates started applying for jobs, and the inevitable FOMO kicked in.

I’m not going to lie to you, the placement market is tough, it’s competitive, and after a few months of applications and interviews (some better than others) I had secured a placement in the third-sector with a really great charity.

I was delighted, scared, and eager to make a good impression.

Now, it’s time to get to the good stuff. Going on placement is a big undertaking, one that requires thought and research so let me impart some of my insights on the good, the bad, and the ugly life of a placement student.

The Good…

  • Get ready for your CV to shine- As I head into final year I am now starting to think, what next? I am starting to think about my future career and where I want to go when it’s all over. Thankfully, my CV is now bursting with lots of different examples of my skills and experience that I have acquired through my placement. Doing a placement will allow you to put your foot in the door and help you stand out to an employer when applying for jobs in the future.

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  • Networking- Fortunately, throughout my time in placement I was to be able to meet and chat with lots of different people within the industry. Doing a placement will allow you to make necessary contacts that may be useful to you in the future. It’s a big world out there and getting yourself known is essential to any job in PR/Communications.

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  • Experience- Probably the best reason to choose to do a placement year. It’s an experience. It will allow you to see first-hand what it’s like to work in your chosen field. For me, before doing my placement I had no clue what I wanted to do in terms of my career, I felt like I was just floating by hoping someday a light bulb would go off and I would know what I want to do. My placement year was an eye opener, it allowed me to see what I’m good at, what I need to improve on and most importantly where I would like to go career wise.

The Bad…

  • Trying to find a placement- This was a toughie for me. Once I made the decision to do a placement year I then had to go and get it myself. The university is a great help in terms of advertising jobs and providing interview tips but ultimately, it’s all down to you in the interview.

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The Ugly…

  • Adapting to the change- Doing a placement year allows you to get out into the big bad world and have a serious role in a field you are interested in. At first, this can be overwhelming and a big change compared to university life. You may have to miss out on a few Wednesday night drinking sessions due to having work at 9am or you might end up in this situation…

Did you go out last night

  • Your financial situation- You might be one of the lucky ones that gets a placement that pays fairly well. However, more and more placements are now unpaid or will only pay travel costs. It may be unfeasible for you to afford to leave your current job or you might have to take on a job elsewhere which can be stressful. At the start of my placement I was working six days a week, two jobs isn’t easy!

Ultimately, deciding to do a placement in third year is completely up to you.

Personally, I wouldn’t look back. I think I made the best decision and I loved getting the experience of working full-time. I now feel well prepared to apply for graduate jobs with a lot of experience behind me.

However, it may not be for you and that’s completely fine too. Speak to your lecturers, career’s advisers and even your friends to help you decide.

Don’t stress just do what’s best for you!

(Orlaith Strong is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @orlaith_strong and Linkedin: @orlaithstrong)

The “P word”

“Placement”.

The nine letter word that instils instant fear and dread in university students.

The “if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist” topic.

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It’s scary isn’t it? One minute you’re catching up with friends, preparing for fresher’s week and celebrating the return of the student loan; the next you’re being forced to ~god forbid~ start thinking about your future and what you actually want to do with your life.

You’ll start having placement students, members of companies and placement co-ordinators making appearances in lectures, and start receiving emails in your university email account that you only ever really use to activate your UniDays discount.

Well, don’t worry – here are some do’s and don’ts to help prepare you for one of the scariest things about second year (second to the fact that this year actually counts towards your degree classification).

Take it from a current placement student who has learned some of these the hard way. And no, I did not follow all of these, which is precisely why I am advising you to.

 

DO:

Start early.

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Give yourself a head start and the best chance you can. The last thing you need when you have assignments to write and exams to revise for is to worry about actually starting to write a CV and figure out what a cover letter even is.

 

DON’T:

Feel as though you have to go on a traditional placement. You have options, consider them. Yes, you can go on placement, but you can also take part in programmes such as Study USA or Intern China, or go straight into final year. Everyone is different and wants different things. It’s your degree, your choice and a year of your life at the end of the day. Placement isn’t for everyone, and you know what? That’s totally fine.

 

DO:

Proof read.

Stop rolling your eyes. Yes it’s one of those “duh” points, but it has to be said. After writing around 20 cover letters and application forms, you might discover a shortcut of “I’ll just write the same thing and change the company name and job title”; well, that’s all well and good until you submit a cover letter stating how much you would love to be a marketing intern at one of the leading car retailers to a milk company looking for a web developer.

Which leads to my second point.

 

DON’T:

Make every application/cover letter the same.

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Companies can see right through you and know exactly when you’re using generic applications. Every application should be tailored to suit the company and job you’re applying for. State why to want to work there, and why you would be ~perfect~ for that role. The more specific and relevant your application is, the more likely the reader is to consider you.

Take it from someone who did the whole “copy and paste” approach, and got rejections for not being ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘passionate’ enough about the job or business.

 

DO:

What’s best for you. Friends are such a big part of our lives, and it’s nearly impossible not to be influenced by them; but don’t feel pressured to do something just because they are. Don’t apply for a job you don’t want just because “all of my friends have”, don’t choose jobs based in a certain country because you want to be near them, don’t decide not to do a placement even though you want to just because your best friend hasn’t and you want to “graduate together”.

I mean, “if your friends jumped off a cliff” and all that.

 

DON’T:

Be afraid to be different. Oh, you think writing 30 cover letters, applications and CVs is boring? Try reading 100s of them. Make the employer interested. This is your chance to show your potential and why you deserve the job. Yes, of course that’s what the interview is for- but what if you don’t get that far? Give the employer no choice but to want to meet and learn more about you and what you can bring to the company.

 

DO:

Practise.

Do you know what a psychometric test is? Yeah, one of those “what shape’s next and mathsy sort of test things”. Well, whenever you’re about to complete one, you might get a ‘guide’ which includes what sort of questions will be asked, how much time you have and practise questions. READ IT. I was one of those “I’d rather get it over and done with” so skipped the guide and practise questions. Well, joke was on me when, approximately 12 minutes later I was sitting at the computer trying not to cry and swearing I would boycott a certain brand for life because of the emotional trauma they had caused me. I mean, who cares how many yen 500 US dollars is worth? Well, for some unknown reason, that company does.

 

DON’T:

Panic apply.

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If you haven’t got a placement sorted yet but some or all of your friends have, it can be tempting to start applying for every single placement opportunity you get told about. It’s important that you only apply to jobs you actually want. Would you rather wait a few weeks or months and get your ideal job, or be the first one to get a placement but end up not even liking the sound of it?  It can be frustrating getting nothing but rejections or ignored for months, but it’s worth waiting for that one real “YES” moment.  I found myself relieved to get some rejections because I didn’t even really want a job or what it was, but I mightn’t have been as lucky and ended up having to take one and spend a year doing something I hated and wasn’t suited for.

 

And now for my final gem of advice:

 

DO:

Enjoy second year.

There’s nothing you appreciate more than 9 hour weeks and being able to go for LUNCH DATES than working 8 hours a day and having to pack lunches like you’re back in school. Second year was such an amazing year for me, and yes, it’s hard work and a step up from first year; but it’s still a great time to socialise, learn, think about what you actually want, and go out on a weeknight?? Imagine.

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Well there you go folks, that’s a wrap. Hopefully you learned something reading this, and if you didn’t – US $500 will get you around 56,698 Japanese yen. Ha – now you have learned something *pats self on back*.

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-murray-4a013a150/

Writing a CV to sell yourself

When it comes to searching for a job the excitement can quickly subside when you consider the state that your severely neglected CV is in. Yes, the application process for some companies can be very extensive and seem unnecessary but you need to get on with it because there will always be someone out there who is willing to put in the effort that you are lacking. I am here to help, by putting together some useful hints and tips, however major disclaimer: I am in no way an expert in this field and therefore not guaranteeing a 100% success rate but have a read and hopefully you will pick up something useful.

General tips

You need to put yourself in the mind of the company who will be reading your application. If you were a recruiter what would you want to know about yourself? What would matter the most? What qualities would you be looking for?

Most of you will be applying for a job/placement in Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Advertising or any hybrid of the above. You need to understand that communication will be a critical part of your role and therefore if you can’t write a CV and cover letter without a grammar mistake then in the words of DJ Khalid:

However, I do understand that your brain can work against you when rereading by running on autopilot, overlooking missed words and grammar mistakes. There are a few steps you can take to weed out the mistakes:

1. Printing it off- This may seem so old school but you are more likely to spot some mistakes with pen and paper.

2. Giving it to someone to read over- a fresh set of eyes can sometimes spot the mistakes you missed.

3. Using an online spell checker- I do recommend Grammarly and SpellCheckPlus although these websites may only pick up spelling mistakes instead of poor grammar so do be careful not to rely on them too much.

CV

It’s common knowledge that a recruiter will take less than 15 seconds to look at your CV, in other words, you have 15 seconds to let the employer know that you are exactly what they’re looking for and more!

Design

Use design to create a simple, clean, and clear CV. If your design doesn’t add to the simplicity of the document then you’ve missed the mark here.

Length

The more concise the CV, the more of it that will get read within the 15-second time frame so get rid of any waffle and stick to punchy bullet points. I suggest trying to fit it on one page if possible.

Relevancy

Keep it current so that means the volunteering you did 6 years ago at your local animal rescue shelter, although very commendable, is not necessary to include.

Adapt

Every company is different and is looking for different things so you can’t afford to be lazy. The more that you can tailor your CV to the company, the more ticks in boxes you get from the employer.

On a final note, do be careful when you are exporting your CV to a PDF as this has a tendency to disrupt the layout and structuring of the document. Make sure to open the exported version to check for any changes before you send it off.

Cover letter 

When there is an option to include a cover letter, ALWAYS INCLUDE A COVER LETTER! Use this as an opportunity to fill in the blank spaces between you and the role your applying for. You need to show the recruiter how everything that you’ve said on your CV will actually be of benefit to them and the position they are trying to fill. You can’t expect them to put 2 and 2 together, you must do this for them.

Do your research! This seems so cliche and is usually the most tedious part but trust me, it can really set you apart. Don’t just stop at the ‘About us’ page on their website, take a look at any recent news articles mentioning the company and their successes.

Do avoid waffling and restrain yourself from using sweeping yet hollow phrases stating that you are ‘a very determined individual’ without telling them how. You need to back up every statement that you make with a relevant example to prove this. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

Before you start your cover letter, grab a notebook and make 2 lists;

In the first list make a note of the skills required for the position. For example, these will include ‘excellent written communicative skills’. The second will outline the individual qualities that the company is looking for in you. These 2 lists create a checklist to make sure that you’re addressed and answered their requirements. It’s not important to address every single requirement but obviously the more the better.

Finally and most importantly, sell yourself! I don’t doubt that you are extremely talented and have done some impressive things so don’t be afraid to tell them.

The only thing left to do now is to send it…

Megan Rea is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-rea-a52437111/