Your placement search, our top tips

We know that, for many, finding and applying for placements can be a long and tough process but we’re hoping these top tips, written by Julie Clare one of our Placement and Projects Co-ordinator, will help you through it.  
  • Start early – the first term of your second year is ideally when you should start to apply for placements that will commence the following summer. Large national and international organisations will advertise their placements early in the autumn term between October and January. Many of these will involve online application forms. From January onwards recruitment will open up more widely across the country and you’ll start to see more companies, including SMEs getting on-board.
  • Be open-minded – by being open minded about the type of role you want to do, pay and location, this will open up the range of possibilities available to you. If there is an employer you haven’t heard of then don’t rule them out. Do some research and find out more about them.

  • Location, location, location – you might be tempted to remain close to university for your placement year. The thought of relocating might be daunting but many of the companies that recruit placement students are used to supporting students from across the country. You’ll probably find yourself working with other placement students who are away from home too. Many companies have closed Facebook groups set up for placement students to get in touch with each other prior to starting their placement to help with things such as finding accommodation. Being geographically mobile can increase the number of opportunities available to you.
  • Don’t undersell yourself – your part-time jobs, academic experience and additional interests away from study are of interest to employers.
  • Stay focused! – it is also easy to get distracted and feel early on in the first term that you have lots of time to apply before the summer and to let the applications take a back seat. It’s important to stay motivated. Missing weeks or months of job adverts may mean you miss out on some great opportunities with companies you’d really like to work for.
  • Tailor your CV – don’t send the same CV and covering letter for every application. An employer will want to see that you want to work for them specifically, not just that you want to secure any placement, and that you’ve thought about why you would be suited to their company and the role they are advertising. If you’re competing with students who are submitting a fully tailored CV, you are decreasing your chances of success.
  • Get experience to get a placement – volunteer or get some work shadowing experience now. Employers want to know you’ve got more to offer than just a degree and you should be looking to add to your CV all the time…everything you do counts.  You’ve probably worked really hard to build a great personal statement and get into university but that’s coming up for 2 years ago now.  What have you been doing over the last 2 years to make yourself stand out? Our blog post ‘Before you apply: 3 words that can change your placement’ might help if you’re looking to gain experience in your 2nd year –  https://mmuplacements.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/before-you-apply-3-words-that-can-change-your-placement.
  • Upskill – when applying for placements try and think about the kind of skills and knowledge employers will expect from you.  For example, if you are an accounting and finance student, an employer may want you to have at least a basic level of Excel knowledge. You may therefore want to consider brushing up on these skills or doing a basic online course so you’ll be prepared.
  • Think Wednesday, think placements! – attend as many Placement Wednesdays events as possible. These are a great way to find out about the placement application process and to get an insight into what recruiters want from their candidates. Each week we’ll have a different employer visit the Business School to talk about their placement schemes. Even if they are not companies and organisations you specifically want to work for, they can still offer some useful information that could be helpful.
  • Don’t leave it until the deadline – some employers will advertise a deadline but if the required number of good quality applications are received before this, or they find suitable candidates early on, they may no longer accept applications for that opportunity.  Applying early shows you’re motivated and pro-active…exactly what employers look for in their students!
  • Check the MMU placement criteria – before accepting a placement, check that the job is suitable, especially if it is one you have found yourself. If in doubt, speak to the Placement Team.
  • Don’t panic! – it’s easy to get disheartened if you’re applying without success, especially if it feels like other students are securing placements and you’re not. Don’t worry! It’s important to reflect on and review your applications as you go. Is there anything you can improve on? Make an appointment for a 1-to-1 with the Placement Team and we can talk about it in more detail and see if anything can be tweaked to improve your chances of success.
  • And never give up! – placements are advertised all year round and students can (and will) secure opportunities right up until the start of term in September/October.

 The Placement Team can be contacted on 0161 2473711 or businessplacements@mmu.ac.uk 

1-to-1 appointments are available daily (Monday-Friday).

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