❝ about my placement… ❞
Course: BSc Computer Science – 2021/22 Placement Year
Placement: Front-End Web Developer, Aston Students’ Union
Placement Applications – Should I be worried?
Hello everyone and welcome to my first post for the placement blog! In need of advice? Questions about the process? Maybe after some tops tips? LOOK NO FURTHER! You’re in the right place! I will detail some points I think were very useful during the whole application process.
One thing that troubled me throughout second year was, “why do I keep getting rejected??” – I know sounds pathetic but that was the reality of pretty much every application I was submitting… In fairness, I didn’t put much effort into specifying each cover letter and application to each position I was applying to, which obviously was way more detrimental to my application than I realised at the time. Just sending dozens of applications a day was draining enough in itself!
But things took a turn… – when I came across an opening for a Front End Developer for Aston Students’ Union. This position actually made me excited and ecstatic to start as I read through the job description, realising this specific position was requesting only the exact skills I specialised in, combining creativity and technology into one role! Being so driven by the opening, I decided to scrap my generic cover letter and write something much more meaningful and specific to that role. Little did I know this would have such a big consequence…
Ultimately, I received an offer to interview! Though the stress wasn’t over yet, like most placement application processes, they will likely test your capabilities through some kind of test. For my position, I was asked to create an events page using HTML & CSS, being the languages I was most confident in, I was crazy excited about the opportunity and began working on it right away. Every day, I kept adding and making small changes, perfecting it as much as I could. It was in the summer, and if you have a lot of free time, why not use it?
To match the webpage’s perfection, I decided to be as ready as I possibly could for the interview. Preparing for an interview is DAUNTING as hell, my thoughts primarily at the time being “how the hell is one meant to PREDICT what they’ll ask??” – thankfully, it’s easier than it sounds! You can Google interview questions for your specific role and there are really useful sites like Glassdoor, which has a collection of REAL interview questions for each role.
I grabbed a bunch of these, threw them into a word document, threw the generic interview questions in too, then brainstormed for anything else they were likely to ask and – you guessed it – I threw those into the word doc too! Then I went about carefully constructing answers to each question, keeping in mind it needs to have relevance to my specific position. This may sound like a boring and maybe outdated way to prepare, but for me, this was the best method, and it made the real interview feel like a breeze (not completely true but we’ll get to that).
You can prepare and prepare as much as you want, but there’s always the likelihood of having unforeseen circumstances affect you. Now in respect to being in an interview, a top tip is to keep calm, and focused, you prepared like crazy already – the hard work is done! Just SELL yourself! In my interview, I was meant to show my work at the beginning, but ended up having technical difficulties in sharing my screen… imagine how it looked that a potential Web Developer can’t figure out how to use Teams…
But despite the internal panic I was facing due to not being able to share my screen for the first 20 minutes of my interview… I kept my composure so as to not let my manic panicking show. I kept a cool and calm face – which incidentally showed to my (now) manager that I can work under pressure! So really, it ended up benefiting me in the end. Just trust in yourself, and the preparation you have done, if you put in the time, you will definitely be pleased with the results.
Enough of being laidback! I’m sure many of you are likely similar to (past) me in that respect, I used to be way too laidback, and pretty much just waited for opportunities to knock on my door. Second year was a huge learning curve where I realised, anyone can be extremely successful, it just depends on who wants it the most. It was time to grow up, and pick myself up, no more waiting around for others to hold my hand.
With placement applications, it is imperative you take a proactive approach, start early rather than later, and be CONSISTENT!! You will not find success straight away! That’s why it’s called a process! Believe me it may be very time consuming, and especially frightening if it’s getting to the end of the year and you still haven’t found anything – but don’t give up hope! I didn’t get my current role’s interview offer till mid-July! – that’s pretty much as late as it gets.
To sum up, start looking ASAP and applying as soon as you enter second year, you don’t have to LOVE every opportunity on paper, just apply and keep applying. Make your applications as relevant as possible and show that you are willing to make that extra effort – it’s easy to tell when you don’t care so keep that in mind! Finally, don’t stress about rejection, we’ve all been there, and it’s just part of life, you will find what is best for you, so don’t be disheartened and keep applying till the last second you have!
Until next time…