teaching & learning

Finding and applying for placements

Liz Vassilakes, the product design placement co-ordinator has provided some great hints and tips on how to find placements.

First and foremost – use the services that are provided by the university! Potential jobs are advertised on Student Central and the placements office on the second floor is a great place to check in if you need any advice.

Most potential placements won’t be advertised as a black and white job that you can apply for, instead you will be looking to make speculative applications to companies. It’s your responsibility to seek out, research and contact companies of interest. Keep track of placements you have applied for and companies you’ve contacted. Make a spreadsheet and allocate a follow up date for each company – then stick to it! This will also help when it comes to writing up the placement year report as it’s important to discuss and evaluate the application process.

Amend your CV, cover letter and portfolio for each position. Yes, it’s a lot of effort, but it will greatly increase your chance of employment. Make sure to ask for opinions and assistance with your CV and portfolio if required. This is another thing that the placements office can assist with and the final years will be able to provide another spin on it as well. If you get rejections from placements (it’s inevitable, don’t get put off by them), be sure to ask for feedback on your application.

Many companies will want to interview you. The careers service offer fantastic support and guidance for interviews. You should also consider asking lecturers, the careers service, family and friends to do mock interviews with you.

If you are offered a placement, make sure that you know what you’re going into, particularly regarding hours and pay. If the pay is low (or none existent!) you’ll need to weigh up the investment of knowledge against your cost of living during the year.

Even if you’re not looking for a placement in the near future, there are plenty of things you can begin to do now to increase your employability for placements in the long run:

– Volunteering

– Keep your portfolio and CV up to date

– Create a LinkedIn account

– Mention your placement year to friends and family so they can keep an eye out for opportunities, it’s often a case of knowing the right person…

– Take note of interesting companies

– Part time holiday work – even if it’s not relevant to your course, this can help to boost universal skills such as customer service.

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