If fashion is your thing then a placement with a leading retailer such as boohoo.com could be ideal for you. In this post Marketing Management student Melanie Taylor tells us about life on placement as a Marketing Operations Intern.
Where are you currently on placement, and what is your placement role?
I am currently on placement at boohoo.com, located in the Northern Quarter in Manchester. I am the Marketing Operations intern, covering a broad spectrum of marketing activities such as international, events and more!
When you started searching for placements did you have a specific type of role in mind? What types of roles did you apply for?
I was very selective when applying for my placement, a lot of my friends seemed to apply for every opportunity that popped up, but it took me a while to find one I liked the look of! Anyone searching for a placement should keep their options open and step outside their comfort zone where possible, but stay true to the area that you want to work in so that your passion shines through.
Why did you choose the sandwich placement route for your course, rather than the three-year option?
One of my worst character traits is being really, really indecisive! I started my course on a three-year option, but after hearing the numerous benefits of undertaking a placement year I decided to switch everything up and change my course to one with a placement. At Manchester Met 89% of graduates who had a placement year achieved a 2:1 or first, which is amazing, and hopefully I will be one of them!
Approximately how many placement applications did you make in total?
I would say that I applied to around four placements, I was very lucky to get an early interview for a role that I loved the sound of!
What type of selection processes did you go through for your applications? For example, psychometric tests, telephone or video interviews? What was your experience of them? Any tips for students currently searching?
As mentioned before, I was extremely lucky and only had one interview process that led to me getting the job. A lot of prep went into the application and interview process, the staff at the business school hub helped me perfect my CV and interview technique.
My interview for boohoo started with a phone interview- I had no idea that the interview was about to take place and was really flustered rushing to a lecture juggling coffee and books when I got a phone call.
I proceeded to answer the questions thrown at me with as much conviction as possible, and asides from forgetting what units I take for about a minute, I feel that I did well! The questions I was asked covered my studies at university, what experience I had, and what I felt I could bring to the role. Following this, to my surprise, I was invited to an assessment centre!
What type of companies did you have assessment days and/or interviews with? What was your experience of these?
My assessment centre for boohoo was the only one that I attended. Prior to the assessment centre, we were asked to produce a plan for an experiential activity at a festival. I created a plan/report detailing my ideas, covering all areas from execution to extra little touches (a person giving everyone glitter partings? Ofc).
When I arrived at the assessment centre, I realised that for this task everyone else had created PowerPoint presentations, except me…who had a written report! I took this opportunity to make myself stand out, and stayed positive, trying to illustrate everything I was saying without any visuals.
What are your top tips for impressing at an interview or assessment day?
We had various tasks throughout the day, and worked as a team throughout this. I think it is important to make sure everyone on the team is contributing, smile, remember people’s names, but also put yourself forward and give ideas.
It is crucial to make yourself heard whilst still being sensitive towards others. Questions are always great, and coming with some questions that mean you can strike up a friendly conversation with the staff will put everyone at ease!
Tell us about your typical working day
On a typical day, I leave my flat in Northern Quarter and walk in with Roxanne, the PR Intern. We usually grab coffee and my first diet cola of the day from our work canteen, before checking emails and catching up with everyone. No day is the same in my department, so I could be working on any project from sample sales, to a student tour, to helping plan a huge event or party. I usually grab another diet cola midway through the day, needing the energy as I’m often running around the building doing loads at once! This is perfect for me as I love being busy and constantly having things to do.
What have been the highlights of your placement year so far?
The highlights of my placement year so far have been organising and attending the staff street party- this involved a lot of hard work and problems popping up, but ended in a great result that everyone enjoyed. Another highlight was organising a sample sale at head office, everyone managed to get hold of clothing for as little as £2, and we raised over £1000 for Teenage Cancer Trust. I am looking forward to other exciting things to come, such as touring French universities next year! Another highlight is the people, everyone is lovely and starting at the same time as lots of other interns has been fab, as we are all in the same boat and have made friends!
And what have been the biggest challenges?
There have been times when I have literally no idea what I’m doing, which can be daunting. It is important to ask lots of questions, be positive and remember that nobody expects you to be perfect at a job straight away!
Are there specific skills that you feel you have developed during your placement year so far? If so, what are they.
My Excel skills are now 12/10, I can create all sorts of fabulous looking graphs and charts, and feel a lot more organised.
I have also been able to see all of the digital marketing theory I learned in university put into practice, and see how the terms I read in a textbook make a real difference to the revenue of the company.
Do you feel you will approach your final year differently because of the experience you have gained, and skills you have developed throughout your placement year? If so, how?
I am really looking forward to going back to university and topping up the knowledge I have gained during my placement. I have learned about lots of different dimensions of marketing, especially digital from courses held in work, and I would love to keep building on this knowledge.
What would be your top tips for a student to maximise their chances of securing a placement?
Be passionate; pick a placement that you are going to get something out of as well!
Do lots of research on the company and immerse yourself in their culture, find somewhere that shares your values.
Try to be professional in your interview, but not like a robot! Be genuine and always go the extra mile
And finally, if you could sum up your placement experience in one sentence, what would it be?
My placement experience has been interesting, challenging, busy, and most importantly – fun!
For support and advice to help you gain YOUR ideal placement contact the Business School Placement Team on 0161 247 3711 or come to the Business Placements desk in the Employability Hub.
We can help with all aspects of placements searching; from initial applications through to preparing for telephone & video interviews, assessment days, or even just to check you are on the right track with your placement search. Get in touch today!