Do something that “sparks joy”!
Name: Samiha Shimla
Course: BSc Business and Mathematics
Placement Position: Business Development Assistant
Location: Aston University Research and Knowledge Exchange, Birmingham, UK
Preparing for the Hunt
Getting a placement can be challenging, lengthy and test your resolve. While some students have their placement secured within a few months into second year, it may take forever for others. I am going to share with you, my personal experience with obtaining a placement over the next year and render you with advice and suggestions that I have deemed valuable.
Before you get sprung into the job hunting and application process, it is essential to bear in mind that you have to take it at your own pace. You will come across students on campus who would have secured an internship quite quickly, while you might be going through lots of rejection. You must have faith in yourself and believe that success will come to you at your own pace. Once you have ingrained this in yourself, the road to securing placement becomes less jarring.
Now that you are at university, you will have so many new experiences, and while many will say, “Enjoy your first year, first-year doesn’t matter”, it is vital to make this year count. Go have fun and enjoy your time but squeeze in some activities as well. At Aston, you will need to prepare a CV for one of your modules. I encourage taking this opportunity to brush up your CV and add the essential skills and activities as you gain them along the way. The Careers and Placements team is cooperative, and they can provide you with invaluable pointers. You will have seminars during lectures but definitely go and book an appointment. You will be amazed by the makeover you get for your CV.
However, if you have finished first year and preparing to start applications for placement, have your CV reviewed during summer holidays or at the commencement of the new term in September. Placement applications open as early as the last week of August. Most of the larger renowned companies open their applications early and hence close them soon as well. It will be more straightforward for you to get started sooner if your CV is already tiptop.
Don’t wait too long to get started with your applications. Have a go at it as soon as possible. No matter which year you are in, join one of the societies that are career-focused. I have been a member of Aston Women in Business Society for two consecutive years. Attend the careers fair, take a chance of interacting and networking with employers when they drop in. This gives you a better shot at getting to learn about the company, and most of all, this is my most precious piece of advice: Try and discover which field you want to work in. I feel it is vital to do something that “sparks joy”. This will make you eager to learn new things. You will be able to contribute more to your workplace, work more effectively. Rather than dreading going to work, you will be looking forward to it.
Keep an eye out for my next blog for more encouraging and enlightening advice!
Getting Your Gears
Pondering about doing a placement can be both exciting and daunting. When you commence applying, you are full of energy which might decline as you go along the way. I believe in facing a fight prepared; so today’s blog is all about gearing up. Though these gears will not guarantee a placement, they will raise your chances of securing an internship.
As I have previously mentioned, it is essential to start early. Here’s a list of things you should get started with whether you are in first or second year:
Get your CV sorted
Your CV is your identity wherever you apply. It gives employers an impression about you, so make sure it reflects your personality and skills well.
Sign up for volunteering
Employers are impressed when you take part in volunteering activities. It does not only make you stand out but also helps you gain transferable skills. Nowadays, many companies pay attention to charity, volunteering, and diversity etcetera. So they will appreciate you caring for the world around you, and may find you as a good fit for their company.
Gain work experience
Apart from acquiring good grades, work experience is also vital. Employers are keen on looking at what transferable skills you possess. Don’t forget to add your experiences to your CV along the way. It is necessary to keep your CV compact and add relevant experiences for the job position. But don’t underestimate any of the experiences you have gained. You might not be aware of the skills you possess; in which case get a second opinion, preferably from one of the career advisers from the Careers and Placements team.
Join a club or society
This is a fun way of gaining insight and skills. Join a sports club or one of the societies on campus. When in the first year, it will seem overwhelming when deciding to choose which societies to join. Most of them will appear appealing with all their exciting agendas. But I would suggest selecting a few carefully. Keep a balance between fun theme and career-focused or volunteering. Joining a sports club is also exhilarating. Your involvement in clubs and societies allows you to develop skills that you can use in a real working environment. Highlighting these skills on your resume will help grab the attention of potential employers.
Specifically, for students starting their second year, you should prepare a cover letter as well. Draft a general version that you can edit before every application. Another crucial advice is to practice online assessments. You can find resources in the Careers+Placements website in the tab CVs, Applications & Interviews. After the initial application, a lot of the companies will ask you to complete the online assessment straight away. There is always a completion deadline, so you will be prepared to take the tests. During term time, the careers team host several sessions of workshops to practice the different online assessments. Make sure to keep an eye out for them. These sessions can be quite helpful.
When you have acquired your gears, it’s now time for the hunt.