Category Archives: Placements Abroad

Benefits of going abroad for placement year

It’s proven that taking a placement year will benefit your future career prospects. Taking a placement abroad and stepping out of your comfort zone is not only an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture, it will also prepare you for the global employment market.

Adding the ‘abroad’ element to your CV, already adds value, because it shows the employer your capabilities as a person without knowing you.

I have chatted to a number of students who have undertaken their placement abroad and quizzed the knowledgeable C+P international team, and here’s some of the reasons which stood out about why going overseas is so beneficial!

Skills

Being in a foreign country, you will find yourself having to adapt to the culture, way of life and also looking after yourself where you are all alone without family. You will gain so many skills such as adaptability. Employers will see that you can adapt to situations and that you can do things out of your comfort zone.

 

Personal development

This links in with skills but being by yourself in a foreign country helps you to spend time with yourself and to get to know yourself a bit better. Being in a new place by yourself can be overwhelming at times, and it tests your ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem solve. You will learn new things about yourself and realise you can do many things, which you probably thought you couldn’t, like networking with people.

 

Explore!

This is also a great chance to explore and take part in activities while doing your placement. Sometimes, we don’t get the chance to do this while studying but you have the chance with placement year!

 

 

 

The world is your oyster!

Why go abroad for your placement year?

I am currently undertaking my placement year abroad, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences on why you should consider doing a placement abroad.

 

You can conquer a new language! 

The great thing about undertaking a placement abroad is that you can learn a new language!

I am studying and working abroad with the sole intention of improving my French.  I have incorporated speaking French into my daily routine. I deal with my accommodation, bank, doing my shopping and also my classes are in French.

Don’t worry you still get to speak English! Most of my friends are outside of school and are international students. With them, I do speak a lot of English! But, I also have thrown myself out of my comfort zone by attending buddy programmes without my international friends, and this has resulted in me making some real French friends.

 

Or you can learn the basics…

Alternatively, you can work or study in English in another country. I have friends across Europe who are working in English while living in cities from Amsterdam to Barcelona. I am sure that outside of work they try to learn some of their local languages so that they can use public transport and buy their groceries. I know in France, French people really respect you if you try to speak French even if they realise that you’re not French or that your sentences are incorrect!

 

You can see the world! 

I have already mentioned in my previous blog that I have visited some pretty cool places like Grenoble in France, undertaking a placement year abroad is such a great way to explore. My most recent trip was to Lake Annecy which is BEAUTIFUL! With placement year you have some time, some money and no real responsibilities tying you down to go out and explore. It is your opportunity to make the most of every weekend, to visit other friends from Aston who are living abroad and to see some new places.

 

 

 

Learn about a new culture

Living in a country enables you to learn more about the culture present and get a feel of the country rather than hearing it on social media. The most significant thing I have learnt so far is the difference between the French and English education systems. In France, most lectures are 3 hours and 15 minutes long, with a break after the first 90 minutes!

I am attending a business school, and it really does feel like I have gone back to school! I am in a class of 30 people, who remain the same in every lesson. Each group has a different timetable, so I follow my 30 friends from Group A for the semester. The classrooms are set out like you would imagine in a school, and our professor picks on individuals during the lesson to answer his or her questions. The class is mandatory and monitored, and missing lessons results in a mark of 0 for your midterm exams!

Other things you will discover are new foods, customs, traditions and social norms. I have learnt a lot about the local cheeses, wines and the local green liqueur “Chartreuse”.

 

Make new friends 

In my class, all of the students come from French-speaking countries – places in France, Belgium, Chad, Congo, Madagascar and Senegal. I am taking a class to improve my French competencies, and everyone in this class are from China, all hoping to take the Desma exam to prove their fluency in French. My international friends stretch from Australia, Germany, Hungary, Denmark and many of them are American and Irish. I have made friends for life from various countries and have even been invited to visit some of these countries with my new found tour-guides!

 

Have some life experiences 

This could be your once in a lifetime opportunity to try living abroad for six or twelve months. You have no obligation to ever work abroad again if your experience is negative, or you may find somewhere that you absolutely adore and wish to work after university. However, you can only find out about life in a new country by going to live there. I think the first month was where I learnt the most about myself.

I moved into a studio on my own, I knew no-one in my new city and I had a ton of paperwork to do to settle into France. I had to find ways to make friends, speak French with as many people as possible and set up my bank, doctors, financial aid, water, electricity, accommodation without the help and advice of my parents and friends. I also lost my EHIC on the plane which seemed to be a huge problem to resolve and meant I was unable to complete some of my paperwork in the first few weeks – it felt like a weight was lifted when I finally (finally!) received a new card. You find yourself without your close usual support network for a few weeks, and this is when you realise you are strong enough to do anything if you put your mind to it!

Career opportunities 

Following on from my last comment, you will have experienced such a steep learning curve when moving abroad on your own, that you will have endless examples to give in interviews. You will learn to be independent, work in a team effectively and tackle challenges that you had thought were impossible. Secondly, if I haven’t persuaded you yet, maybe you should consider that your work opportunities could effectively be doubled if you have exposure to a second country alongside your exposure to England.

I have had a handful of interviews for jobs in Paris last week and am awaiting a response. I already have friends in Paris and they have told me that they adore it so much that they are already considering working there after university. I can only hope that I will receive a job offer in the next few days so I can experience the excitement and joy of Paris for myself!

 

A month into placement year in Switzerland.. how am I finding it?

Hello everyone!

My name is Lauren, and I’m an International Business and French (IBML) student working at Deloitte in Geneva, Switzerland for my placement year. I’ve been here for just over a month, and I’m really enjoying it so far.

As this is my first blog post, I thought it would be nice to share just a few things that I’ve learnt after only a month of placement:

Change is hard

 

At the start of second year, I began to question why I decided to study languages and force myself to leave England for a French-speaking country. Nevertheless, I’m here now and I am already starting to see a change in myself and my independence. Moving countries requires a lot more work than you would initially think, but once you’re living abroad, you realise that it’s all worth it. You meet different people, experience new cultures, try lots of different foods, and get the opportunity to live in and be surrounded by beautiful cities.

 

Budgeting is even harder

 

 

As I’m sure, you can imagine, living in Geneva is super expensive. Accommodation, food, washing and Wi-Fi are all things you need living abroad. You will need to find a way to pay for these yourself. This is something I should have thought about more before moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, budgeting is something that I will have to improve upon by the end of the year if I want to live with a roof over my head, and having it as a skill will be useful at every stage during my life. I know that even in the past month I have managed to set myself a weekly amount and stick to it, even making room for travelling to nearby cities to visit friends from university which has been a bonus! Also, because you’re in a different country, you can use that as an excuse to do lots of stuff that you won’t have the chance to do at home without worrying too much about how much money you’re spending.

 

The possibilities are endless

 

 

You may think it sounds a bit OTT, but moving abroad really has allowed me to meet lots of incredible people in such a short space of time. During this, the main thing I’ve found is that the word is bigger than I had originally thought, and you definitely shouldn’t limit your placement options to just the UK, or just France when looking for a French-speaking country. Whether you want to study, work, or do a mixture of the two, make sure you use this experience to your advantage and try to visit as many places in the world that put you the furthest out of your comfort zone.

Speak soon!

Lauren x

Why do a placement?

Hi, this is Hannah and I am currently doing a study abroad placement in France! Stay tuned as I will be blogging my placement experience throughout the year!

Why do a placement?

I went to Aston knowing that everyone is encouraged to do a placement year, yet even towards the end of second year, I still had no idea what I wanted to do.

So I’ve put together this list of useful reasons why you may want to consider a placement/study abroad:

 

It can help you to distinguish yourself from other people when you apply for jobs

Employers value students who have undertaken a placement. You will have gained some knowledge of the working world, developed new skills and adapted to a new culture (within your business or your new country) while becoming independent and mature. You will have made decisions for yourself, discovered how you work effectively and efficiently while developing new skills with new softwares or business practices. You can use your experiences as examples to the common interview questions: In what scenario have you been a team player? When have you shown management skills? How do you cope with stressful situations? I know that I can laugh with employers when I explain how I adapted to the French culture or how I overcame the language barrier when working in groups. In all honesty, a placement year is a valuable addition to your CV.

 

You will expand your network and could jumpstart your future career

Your placement could lead to a graduate job if you have impressed your managers throughout the year. If you are an asset to the team then your manager will remember this in the future. Alternatively, by studying abroad, you meet people from all over the world, who have heard of job opportunities across the globe that could interest you. You can use sites such as LinkedIn to connect with people that you meet so that in the future you can use this professional network to regain contact with them and remind them of opportunities for jobs that you discussed months or years ago. Since arriving in France, I have made friends on my course who are native speakers and can help with my CV’s and Cover Letters and who know of internships that are available for me to apply for – from Paris to Montreal.

 

It will be the first time in your life that you have earned a proper salary (or you have an Erasmus grant to spend if you’re studying abroad!)

You’ll finally have some money, and you can treat yourself with it – some people chose to live in nice accommodation for the year or treat themselves to regular meals out, but ultimately most people try to save some of their money. A lot of people decide to travel if they have time in summer before final year, or even after university. If you work or study abroad, then it is so easy and cheap to have multiple weekends away, visiting local towns and cities. I have spent two of my last three weekends in Marseille and in Geneva with new friends, and visiting old friends – I feel like I am on a mini gap year alongside my studies!

If you do decide to do a placement, you will be proving to yourself, your tutors (who most likely will write your first job reference when you leave Aston) and future employers that you are experienced, motivated and ambitious.

Blog series (5): 6 months in …. The halfway line

Disclaimer: This post is an edited version of my previous post (6 months in) I am now way past the halfway line!

It seems like only yesterday I was on Aston Futures searching for a placement, yet here I am almost 6 months into my Placement Year, half the year done! Already I have begun preparing myself for my assignment and believe you me, it’s not as easy as you think it would be. When going on a placement at times you can feel disconnected from the university. Regardless of working in my place of study, for the longest time I have felt disconnected. This is not a bad thing, this is just a part of me growing up and working hard. It may come to a time where you feel as though, your placement has somewhat matured you, for me, this is exciting as I feel I have finally developed the mindset I need to delve into my final year.

6 months into my placement and I have established a range of skills, I never thought I could develop until after graduation, I have built up my confidence and self-esteem considerably and I have now learnt to trust myself more than any other person in this world, in the world of work, you are relied upon and in order to really succeed, you must also rely on yourself first and foremost to get the job done.

As the New Year approaches, I can truly say that my placement has made me proud of who I have become and the best part is that I still have 6 months to go. During this time, I have taken part in a range of networking events where I have had the opportunity to liaise with other employers and colleagues, I have contributed to several important meetings and will soon have the chance to chair a meeting of my own. I have also contributed to a few ‘employer away days’ where the team gets together to discuss progress, issues and future campaigns. This by far has been one of the most engaging factors for me, as during this period you are required to think critically about all that has been achieved in the past and how this can be improved in the short/long term. During this period of time you are required to analyse and communicate effectively with other members of the team, it is during this point you come to realise that in order to provide a seamless service, it is essential the team takes time away from the office to brainstorm and discuss a range of innovative ideas to
bring about great change.

Not only have I learnt a range of new things I have also met some great people and made a tonne of new memories with some new friends. Working in an environment where you are joined by other placement students not only provides you with the moral support you may need, but it just makes the placement all the more fun and interesting. As we all study at Aston I have made friends on my course who I never knew of before and the best part is that we can all help each other with our assignments! The past 6 months have been a treat and I cannot wait to come back in the New Year to see what it may bring.

Remember, don’t be afraid of success, now is the time to push yourselves, now is the time to really do great things – The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student.

Stay tuned to read about coming to the end of my placement journey next Monday.

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

Blog Series (4): The first day

 

Disclaimer: Take this with a pinch of salt, your day could be a little or very different! 

I got the ‘Yes’ in May and started in July which was still a little time away, I was nervous, to say the least. I got on the train and made my way to Aston, when working as staff the environment completely changes, you are no longer that student who gets late for their lectures, or who walks into the Main Building only to walk back out, you are staff and as staff you are required to be there on time, well dressed and ready for the day.

It is likely that your manager will greet you when you come in and help you get settled at your desk, you will then be taken around the department and be introduced to your colleagues, don’t worry if you forget names,  soon all will be familiar, after all the handshakes and formal introductions you will be taken back to your desk.

At this point, things get real, real quick! You’ll be given a timeline of plans and comms that the team have been working on, what you need to work on and what your targets will be. You will be given a handover, for instance, I will create a handover document for the next placement student so they know how I did things, what they need to do and just to give them that bit of advice from placement students to placement student and then you will be given a fairly easy task to help you get familiar with the role.

Oh, and of course you will be given your log-ins, an email account, a staff card and just to warn you, they do not give you a chance to smile coherently for the picture, so be sure to have your ‘I’m ready for a picture’ face on at all times and you will also need to create a message for your voicemail … mines is dreaded, thank god no one really calls me!

The first day was great I did not feel too overwhelmed, as I was eased into the role, at least for a good month! They really do give you the time to settle, you are also given a ‘buddy’ which is another colleague in the department who you can talk to if you do not feel ready to approach matters with your manager or do not know how to.

The first day now seems like a blur, I do remember feeling lonely, however, as I had not befriended any colleagues at this point and my friends had not moved back to university, it was a lonely time at the start as other placement students had not yet started either. However, in due to time I have met the best placement students, staff and made some great friends, make sure to integrate with your team and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your placement colleagues.   

Your first day will be great, it will be normal to feel nervous, but just remember like with anything you’ll adjust and feel at home before you know it!

Stay tuned to read about my journey 6 months in this Thursday

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student.

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

 

Towards The End of Placement

Almost a year on, and Placement is coming to an end… 🙁

I can definitively say it has been one of the best years of my life, and has really been a highlight of University so far. And to think I was questioning what the fuss about a Placement Year was all about!!!

Doing a Placement abroad can be very costly, depending on where you complete yours, but also on whether you’re working, or studying. However, it can also be relatively cheap, if you’re careful with your spending. I would not want any student, who has their heart set on doing a placement abroad, to be put off by the financial aspect that is involved. There are many forms of financial support available to students, primarily Student Finance, but also scholarships, and help from Aston. See what you are eligible for, and apply! These services are in place to help you, so utilise them. If ever in doubt about anything, just make an appointment to see the Careers + Placement Team, and air any concerns, or queries that you may have. They are very helpful, and will ensure that you are supported as much as possible.

As you start your Placement journey, do not forget to stay in touch will your friends from Aston, as you, or they, may be feeling a little homesick, and might want to speak to a familiar face. No one’s Placement goes smoothly for the whole year, but if yours is going well at the start, just remember that your friend’s might not be going as well, especially if they are working, as this could prove to be more difficult – physically, and mentally – than studying. So, just keep some sort of regular contact, so that you can exchange stories, and experiences of what has gone on so far.

Of course, they might not need any support, as their Placement could be going great. In fact, some of my friends are staying abroad for another month, or two, even after there Placement has ended, as they have enjoyed it so much.

loving madrid thus far!

Keep in touch with your family, so that they know that you are enjoying the experience of a Placement, but also to put their nerves at ease. Moving out, or living abroad can be stressful for you, but also for your family members, as they will be worrying about you non-stop. Whenever you get the opportunity, just allay their fears, so that they know that they do not have to worry about you so much. Although, if you are not enjoying any aspect of staying away from home, or living abroad, then let your family know, as there is always a solution.

Whilst on Placement, ensure that you keep on top of all your paperwork e.g. Erasmus forms, as problems with those documents will only add more headaches to your already hectic life! If ever unsure, just drop the Aston team an email. Personally, with my Placement coming to an end, I have reflected on the past year, and am so happy that I took this route. I know it will not be for everyone, but if you believe you could see yourself studying abroad, in an international environment, meeting people from all over the world, who will become lifelong friends, then do your research, and if you’re still interested – APPLY!!!

see you soon!

Till next time!

Blog Series (2): The interview

Now I am going to assume that you are in fact applying for my current role as a Marketing Assistant for Aston University (Careers+Placements department) so that I can talk to you in perspective. When applying for a role in Marketing, I decided to bring together my knowledge from various aspects of my life, yes I am an undergraduate and yes as an LSS student studying English and Social Policy I do in fact, hold the skills and qualities needed to be a Marketing Assistant, but is that all I have to offer? That’s the question, what more is there to you, other than your degree? Whilst important it is surely not the only thing that interests you. Think about things you do outside of the university, think about something that may have caught your eye, it could have been a campaign put together by Nike and did that persuade you to buy something? Or did Pepsi’s recently commercial spark an emotion within you? Marketing is around you and it always will be, so why not talk about how you perceive campaigns, or how you would have changed something about a particular campaign … think outside the box!

However, don’t point out the blatantly obvious ‘I study marketing and so that is why I will be good at it’ studying and working are practically two different things, are you familiar with Photoshop, Hootsuite, Survey Monkey, recording stats, excel, WordPress? Do you use social media? Do you blog? Do you vlog? When talking about modules don’t talk about the name of the module ‘oh I did a marketing module’ … that means nothing to an employer not even one at Aston, instead talk about what you perhaps learnt and how you can use that and apply it to real life work, talk about the skills you’ve learnt just studying at Aston, surely your writing would be adept, you would be a fairly good proofreader, you would have a knack for creativity, use that to your advantage.

Don’t be shy to showcase your talent! Can you draw? Bring in a portfolio! It’s all about bringing to light your key skills and talents and I bet, you have much more skills than you know. This is your time to shine, the person who is interviewing you is likely to be your manager … I was interviewed by my ‘potential’ manager and colleague, I used the interview to get to know them as they used it to get to know me!  

Now, the interview came after a group task (yes with other people who were applying for my role and various roles within the department) and an excel task. I was nervous to meet the people who would be deciding the fate of placement year, like most people my hands began to get clammy, I began to second guess myself and my heart started racing when I heard the words ‘Zahra it’s time for your interview’ but don’t quote me, my memory may have distorted the lines of the exact words used, but you get the jist. Once I entered the room for my interview I felt at ease, the department here at Aston is very friendly, there are no intimidating faces and no reason to be intimidated, at this point you are not a student, you are an adult, hoping to become staff! So let your confidence consume you … but don’t get cocky.

I was asked a number of questions during my interview, the questions were picked up and formed from what I had mentioned on my CV … so don’t lie, an employer can tell. The conversation flowed as I did my research and talked about the campaigns done at Aston, here’s a list …

Ah, let me let you research that one on your own!

As I did take the time out to research the campaigns put forward by Careers+Placements, it instantly conveyed my interest within the department and understanding of what ‘we’ are trying to sell as a team. I also talked about what I wanted to gain from my placement and why it was so important to me, it’s not about being the perfect candidate who knows everything already, it about being genuine, showing an interest, and room for progression.

The interview lasted perhaps 15-20 mins, or maybe it just felt that long, but don’t worry if the interview goes well then the conversation will come to a natural halt. An interview should feel like a conversation, pay heed to your body language, but don’t sit like you’re at home, dress well and practically so that the employer can envision you working actively as part of the team and speak with confidence, take your time and speak clearly.

Don’t devalue yourself, let your personality shine and if all goes well, then you could be Careers+Placements next Marketing Assistant.

Stay tuned to read about my experience handling the ‘You got the job’ news! This Thursday!

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student. 

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

Blog series (1): The application process

Hi there, my name is Zahra and I am currently working as a Marketing Assistant for Aston’s Careers+Placements zahra image 11department. Stay tuned for my blog series every Monday & Thursday to help YOU land my role, for your placement year!

Don’t know what’s worse when applying for a role,  the interview or the application process? For me it was the application process, as it can be a daunting experience, it can put you off a job before you’re even given a chance, it can even make you feel incompetent for the job, but if you do it right, then you can really give yourself a fighting chance to stand out from the crowd.

When applying for a role it is likely that you will be asked to submit a CV and Cover Letter, remember you can always get this checked before you apply, by uploading your documents on Aston Futures for your Placement Coordinator to check, this is exactly what I had done before my placement search began. But that’s a story for another time.

When writing up a CV specifically for marketing make sure to highlight ‘relevant’ details, get your thinking hats on or better yet use google to help you identify exactly what skills and qualities you need to work in marketing, once you have done that think about the skills and qualities you do have, and I bet you there are plenty and use that to highlight how you can contribute to the team.

Instead of just listing your skills and qualities, if you have space why not add a sentence to highlight how you have demonstrated the skill or quality in the past. For instance, the most common skill/quality that is listed in most CV’s is ‘effective communication skills’, brilliant, if you have that but so does everyone else or so they claim, if you do have ‘effective communication skills’ how do you know? Communication can come in the form of speaking and writingbrilliance, have you worked in a Call Centre? As a Sales Assistant? Do you blog? Tell us how and remember you don’t need to list every skill or quality, you need to highlight the one’s that make you stand out and are relevant to marketing, be a little different and don’t just stick with the most common skill/quality, do your research!

Another tip would be … and believe you me this is overlooked, take a look at the job description and pick out key buzz words from that description, 9/10 times if a job description is written well, employers will put in keywords that they want you to use, they are literally telling you exactly what they want to see in your CV and Cover Letter!

Be a little creative. Your Cover Letter, is a glimpse into your personality, from this employers, are able to see where your passion resides. When applying for a role at Aston be sure to mention what campaigns you have come across, how familiar you are with the department, if you are part of a society, do you follow their social media? Don’t forget to also mention what campaigns interest you in general, like any other employer Aston does not expect you to only be interested in Aston, we understand you have other interests, don’t shy away from those. Do mention how your modules may contribute to your role in marketing, but be sure to explain how or why, fair enough if you have covered marketing as a module, but what skills did you gain, or let’s say you haven’t, have you worked in a team or given a presentation if so pop that in.

And last, of all, do apply! If you are interested in Marketing then this is the role for you, I have learnt so much during my time here at Aston, it has prepared me well for a graduate job and has given me the confidence to do what I really want to do. Stay tuned, to read about my interview process and tips next Monday!

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student.

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

Mastering Madrid.

Greetings from Madrid!

I have now been studying here for roughly two and a half months, and have loved every bit of it. This post will mainly focus on what Madrid has to offer, so anyone aspiring to do their placement here, can receive a few hints, and tips of what might be in store for them. I will also briefly touch upon the finances of studying, and living abroad, as this is a big factor in the decision-making for most people, myself included.

Where to begin?! The University life here is somewhat similar to that of Aston, however, I found that there are some differences, mainly in the way you are examined, and in the way some of the courses are organised. First, and foremost, I got to choose my own modules here, something that you do not get the chance to do until final year, if you’re a joint-honours ABS, and LSS student like myself. This is something I feel is a benefit, as you are given more autonomy, and can focus on a field that you enjoy, or are good at, or both! At UC3M, which is the University I am studying at, there is a big emphasis on continuous evaluation, and mid-term tests. This is something we do not really encounter at Aston, but I have found that they are really not that bad, and can work out in your favour, as there is then less stress on you for the final exam.

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The social life is great, and there is so much to do. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) team here are really helpful, and arrange some great events. You should sign up for the ESN card, it’s only €5, and it great value for money. I would recommend everyone to take part in the early events, as it is a great way to get to know people, and to learn about Madrid, and all of it’s hotspots. The food is unbelievably cheap – especially compared to England! Madrid really is a sports-mad city, so for any football or basketball fans that are planning to study, or work here, they will not be disappointed.

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Generally, the city itself it relatively cheap. Accommodation is cheaper than the majority of anything that you will find in England. You can purchase a travel card, which is €20 a month for students, and with that, you can travel anywhere within the region of Madrid, on any mode of public transport. Flights back to the UK are also quite cheap, so you can return home, if you need to. So, for anyone that wants to do their placement abroad, but is put off by the expenses, should really look into it, as Madrid is relatively cheaper than most other European capital cities, and you will be guaranteed to have a great experience.

Thanks for reading!