Category Archives: Business, consulting and management

10 TOP TIPS TO FIND YOUR PERFECT PLACEMENT

1)   Use all sources for your search

There are so many places you can look for placement options, so don’t just presume Aston Futures is your be and end all. Use ratemyplacement.com, e4s.com and indeed.com. You can also branch out further, and use family friends and social media to try and find connections for businesses that may not necessarily advertise their Industrial Placement vacancies.

2)   Don’t rule out your own area

Although some people would hate the idea of moving back home for a year after living solo at University for two already- don’t rule it out as an option. It can save huge amounts of money on living costs and accommodation…and you even get your evening meal made for you!!! (Who can resist that, I ask!?) Living at home can also create ease for you, with your home friends around, new friends to be made at your new job and possibly even more mobility if you have your own car or can borrow one at home. It’s a great idea to just Google large businesses in your own area, and have a scout on their careers pages or drop an email to see if they offer any placement positions.

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3)   Be prepared for the various stages in application

These days, companies like to throw all sorts of application stages at you. Below are the possible stages you could be asked to complete before getting to an assessment centre:

  • Large online form to include all personal info e.g. qualifications, interests, CV and Cover Letter upload
  • Simple cover letter and CV upload onto an online site
  • Online personal questions e.g. ‘Give us an example of when you have achieved personal goal.’
  • Online Psychometric and Mathematics tests (they are so hard so do your homework before taking them!)
  • Phone interview
  • Automated or live skype recorded interview
  • Face to face interview
  • Trial day at the workplace (not as scary as you may think!)
  • Assessment centre- this usually includes both group and individual exercises

4)   Apply, Apply, Apply…

My advice would be to apply to as many vacancies as possible and keep your options open. Providing that the vacancy is still relevant to your chosen course, you should ensure that you are applying to as many as you can, and as early as you can. I started from September, and that certainly helped me, as I was in no mad rush to get a load done at once, and all of the stages were conveniently spaced out throughout the year, so I wasn’t stressed when exam and coursework submission period came around. It might be a good idea to give yourself targets of applying to around 3 or 4 a week around September-December, to help yourself keep on track. It may also be important to read thoroughly through the job specification before applying. Not only because this can significantly help with the applications themselves (because they usually contain the answers that employers are looking for), but also because it is important to restrict yourself to only applying to ones that are relevant to you e.g. if they require certain skills, degree channels, unrestricted mobility or qualifications. This will save you a lot of time…and the disappointment of rejections.

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5)   Be savvy with your application questions

Applications are known for being very tedious, monotonous and time consuming, and you’ll therefore be delighted to know that there are some corners you can cut very easily, in order to reduce your boredom and avoid being driven crazy. The main top tip I can pass on, would be to ensure that when answering your personal questions during the application process, make sure you’re adding each question and answer to a word document as you’re going along. This is because a lot of the questions from different companies can give you the same, or very similar questions, and so this will save you a lot of time and effort writing up the same (or similar) questions again. A lot of your answers can often also be reworded and repurposed for different questions. Just make sure you change the company or industry references to apply to the specific job application.

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6)   Have a spotless CV and Cover Letter

Keep both your CV and Cover Letter relevant and short! An employer may only spend around 5-20 seconds looking at each applicant’s document, and so it needs to capture them straight away, and also be very easy to digest. To help you, use subheadings and online examples as inspiration to keep yours tip top! In the CV itself, make sure you sell yourself and take pride in your achievements- convince them to give you that interview! Then once you’re done and before sending it into the Aston Placement Team, ask a trustworthy person to check over it to ensure it is of quality, or even compare with friends to see if there is anything you have missed.

7)   If you aren’t sure…ASK!

If you’re looking for a placement or to study abroad, or even if you are unsure about the placement search or application process- do not be afraid to drop the placement team an email at absplacements@aston.ac.uk or pop into their office in the Student Union. No question is too silly! Be sure also not to leave things too late, as application processes can close early sometimes (particularly for study options abroad), and you don’t want to miss an opportunity!

8)   Be Prepped for Assessment Days!

They aren’t anywhere near as scary as you may think! In fact, a lot of the time Assessment Centres are presented informally and can involve engaging activities- so don’t be worried if on is approaching. However, there are a few things that are worth taking with you to ensure you are fully prepared…

  • Your printed CV
  • A notebook and a couple of pens
  • Lunch (it may not always be provided)
  • Printed background info on the company (to refer to if you forget anything)
  • And of course, it is still very important to look presentable and ensure that you are ‘geeked up’ on all the necessary info too.
  • Most importantly- make sure you bring yourself!! Don’t try and be someone you aren’t, it will show through in interviews, and actually is much better to be relaxed

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9)   Don’t be disheartened

It can be very frustrating getting the dreaded phone call or email…’Unfortunately we have decided not to process your application further…’ But please do not be disheartened!! Keep your spirits high and make sure you keep on applying to other options, as you never know what is around the corner, and only means that you are simply not what the employers are looking for- which doesn’t in any way mean that you are not what a different employer is looking for!

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10)               Don’t be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone

There are many aspects about getting a placement which may place you outside of your everyday comfort zone. From interviews in unfamiliar places, to meeting a wide range of new people, or answering questions on the phone or conference call. Do not be afraid or put off by pushing yourself to do these things, visit new places and take pride in meeting new people or having new experiences. After all, it is what a placement is all about.

Excited or Stressed?

In a meeting with my Professional Development Manager this week, I was reflecting on my year. She asked the question, ‘Now that you’ve been here, are you more or less excited or more or less stressed when you consider finishing University?’

Hmmmmm.

I think back to securing my placement. Stressful. For the fear of being sent to the last place on Earth you wanted to be, doing the worst job you could imagine, you just HAD to find a placement. Whilst keeping on top of everything else of course. So when you spend 3 days writing an application, submit it and receive an automatically generated email within 2 minutes of pressing the button, your heart kind of sinks. Especially knowing, you’ve got to go through it all over again.

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Will looking for a grad job be exactly the same?

I was having coffee with my Mum and I was talking about some options I was considering for when I complete my degree. She exclaimed, ‘Isn’t this just so exciting?!’ The idea of just starting out, with so many paths in front of you made my mum green with envy. ‘You have the chance to do exactly what you want to.’

Is she right? So why don’t we feel excited?

Maybe we’ve become cynical; because there’s so much competition we’ll never get a job and we’ll be paying off out student loans forever, and we’ll never be able to afford to buy a house…

These are statements I hear a lot. I blame the media. However, none of them are fundamentally true. I’ve come to thinking that I got here didn’t I? Why would a grad job be any different? In fact, I’m in a better position than I was before with a year’s industrial work experience under my belt and a number of people I could turn to for advice or support. I also have a much clearer idea of what it is I want.

So actually, although placement/job hunting can be a stressful experience, let’s start getting excited! There really is so much to look forward to.

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Love Serenna xxx

My job has taught me to travel

Before my placement, most people would have considered me as one of those career driven types. I had researched many of the top companies and developed an extensive CV to market myself. I always thought, I’ll secure my degree, get a good grad job and then I’ll be flying! Then I started at IBM.

It’s not that I’m any less ambitious now about the career that I want, but maybe I want a different career. Or maybe it’s just not been a good week.

For the first time in my life I have been earning money that has allowed me to travel. In December, I went to Bali and the Gili Islands for 2 weeks, last month I was in Dublin, next week I will be in New York. In April its Paris and in May, Santander. I’m having a break then (as I have no more holiday allowance left!) and then in September it’ll be a flight to Turkey. I have the bug.

The temple that floats in the sea once the tide comes in!

Pulling a pint in the Guiness Storehouse, Dublin Kecak dance performance in Ubud Watching the sun go down on Gili Trawangan Seminyak Beach Kilmainham Gaol

When I say my job has taught me to travel, I do not mean travelling through my work. Let me explain why. In IBM, one of the largest divisions is GBS (the Global Business Services). To you and I, that’s the consultants who spend 4 to 5 nights a week away from home. I speak to many graduates who join GBS a few months after their inductions. The typical story goes a bit like this…

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So they didn’t tell you?

….Tell me what?????

Before I get into the nitty gritty of this post I’d just like to say two things:

  1. Guys I have been in Hamburg for 6 full months and two weeks! (Everybody blow your trumpet!! Pa na na na na na). 2015 let’ssss go!
  2. AND also let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New year, full of good health and I pray that God continues showering you down with blessings!!

Now that that’s done…. into the nitty gritty!!!!!!!

Well this post is to tell you what previous interns may/may have not told you. Because at open days/career fairs, they always seem to forget to mention the dullest and slowest part of their placement – THE BEGINNING. So because of this you start work with the highest expectations on your first day or month, Lord knows I did. I had expectations of walking into work on the first day with an atmosphere like:

BUSY WORK ENVIRONMENT

“BAMMMM LET’S GET TO WORK PEOPLE!!!! *claps hands rapidly*” “Oi you, what’s the update on Americas region?!” (As you can probably tell, I watch a lot of movies)  

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January is a funny time.

I am in the second week back after Christmas (I say back; not back to work as such as I hadn’t taken any holiday after Christmas, but back in the office. Trust me, it’s a big difference) and it feels weird.

Nearly 7 months into my placement and I’m pretty comfortable with my job role. I was so consistently busy when I started that I had to learn fast. And I learned A LOT. Strangely, the most important things I’ve learned have never been those I would have expected (more to come on this in another blog!)

However, now that onboarding graduates into IBM has become second nature it’s become hard not to get complacent. Plus, complacency nearly always equals boredom and I refuse to be bored. Thank goodness then for end of year reviews (I know, I can’t believe I’m saying this either!), but seriously a formal review process forces you to reflect on your experiences. By reflecting on them you can learn from them and then plan ahead for the future. Not only that, my manager wanted the chance to give me personal feedback from all my colleagues and let me know that my work is appreciated. Like being back at school, who can deny that they enjoy receiving a gold star to show their parents?!

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Goodbye 2014

Working up until Christmas has been hectic at UB to say the least. With the year coming to an end the Sales and Finance teams have been working hard to close down their accounts for 2014 and plan for the next year.  From a Finance perspective I was working with my manager to ensure that my Sales business partner had the help needed to successfully plan for next year investments and growth targets. I also supported my managers in terms of getting releases. Release is a term used for the money injected back into the profit and loss account that hasn’t been used, nor will be used in the remainder of the year which had previously been set aside as an amount that could have been paid out as an expense. There were targets to reach before the end of the year making this quite a stressful period for everyone.

Work aside everyone was getting into the festive spirit, teams were decorating their desks and putting up Christmas trees. There was tinsel everywhere! If that wasn’t festive enough,  an elf also went around the office handing out biscuits and treats! Christmas had come early, literally!

 

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A Jaffa pole!!

A gigantic Jaffa pole!!

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Welcome to the working world.

Goodbye lie ins, going to sleep at silly o clock, and hello 6 am starts, 10 pm bedtime and a lifestyle with routine.

The working world isn’t what I had it cut out to be if I’m going to be honest. I thought I would be enjoying the perks of being a working adult and having £’s to spend without having to work out how much I had left to spend per week until the next loan drops (maybe that’s just me!). However, I was not completely prepared for the amount of work and learning I was about to take on or how tired I would feel in the first few weeks of my placement. Gone were the days when I could go to sleep whenever I wanted without a care about tomorrow. I knew now that I had to be on the ball at work the next day, so waking up feeling exhausted was not the best idea when every day brought new knowledge and new experiences.

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