I hope you all are doing well during these unprecedented times. In case you haven’t read my previous blogs, I’m Harsh, a second-year BSc Business student. In this blog, I’m going to talk about placements; how I secured one, what I did on placement, and most importantly how the BSc Business placement is different from other management placements.
Getting yourself a placement is not easy, but you’ll love every minute once you're on placement.
When I started Uni, I had no clue about how placements worked. To be honest, I thought we would be sent to companies on the basis of our grades. That’s not how it works at all. Going on placement means finding a job, the way you would post-graduation, in the real job market with some serious competition from very talented people.
Now, you might think 'How do I find a job just one year right after school?' - but you need not worry. We have an amazing Placements Team and dedicated support for BSc Business placements. They’ve got a great method of training you to your fullest and bringing out the best in you. You’re like a rough-diamond and they’re the guys who, under pressure, help you shine.
School of Management students have something called the Professional Development Program (PDP) scheduled into their timetable. The Placements Team use this time to teach you everything you need to know about the UK application process. You'll start with the basics, like CVs, covering letters, moving onto psychometric testing, video interviews and in-person interviews during the course of the year.
When application time nears, employers come in for visits too. This helps you get a better insight into what they do, what they expect from you and in some cases, they might even give you tips about their application process. One tip here, please do look up the company beforehand and do ask questions! You can thank me later.
Some of you might find the application processes to be extremely lengthy or tedious but there is a reason behind it. Companies want to attract and hire people they feel would fit into their culture and easily join the existing teams.
Moreover, they spend an awful lot on training their employees. So they want to ensure that the person sticks around afterwards. It is these very tests that help them find the right applicants.
The Placements Team also runs a whole set of practice and mock interviews, and I highly recommend attending each one of those. It gears you up, just like they gear up an F1 car before the race. The interviewer is usually an actual HR professional from a reputable company. They ask you most of the questions you’d get in a normal interview, in a formal setting.
If you pay attention to what they say, reflect on your answers and the weaknesses they point out to you, I’d say most of your preparation should be done. You won’t feel the jitters or be as hesitant about going for your actual job interviews.
Fast forward into mid-February for first-year Business students. You’ll get a schedule from the Placements Team with a list of companies who are offering placements, their application opening dates and the deadlines. This list is not definitive, and more companies do come in during the second semester, but it is a substantial list, to begin with.
The list will help you decide who you want to apply to and manage your time effectively. There’s usually a short turnaround time between the application and the interviews. The deadlines too, on many occasions, are quite close.
These are special six-month placements which have been curated only for Bath Business students, in most cases. So the internal HR process at the hiring company also must be completed very quickly because they hold everything else up to go over your applications.
Doing everything I’ve outlined above, along with some hard work, luck and constant advice and support from the Placements Team, I got my first placement, with one of the world’s largest cybersecurity consultants and takedown providers.
My role was as a Business Administrator, but I was doing fraud detection and mitigation for some of the world’s largest banks and tech companies. As my role was a customer-facing one, I had to deal with them daily. Unfortunately, this is all I can tell you about my work. But what I can tell you is that I had immense support and help during my initial days and received some great training during my initial months.
Aside from the work, you’ll find that usually everyone is extremely friendly and helpful. I’m confident that you’ll be comfortable in your settings within a couple of days/weeks. The good thing about my placement was that I had flexi-time, so I didn’t have to worry about getting into the office for 9am. That’s not how most employers are and usually, 9am means 9am, so don’t stay awake on a weeknight watching Netflix till 2am!
I would also recommend reading the Student Placement Reports on Moodle (usually under 'My Courses'). They will help you understand in detail how a company and its placement is structured. They cover everything from societies, to socials and even housing. Students write them after their placements and include their views, opinions and experiences post-placement. In short, they are the complete package and a must-read.
Another piece of advice here, I know the placement will be the first corporate job for most of you reading this and you might be a little nervous. It’s normal and everyone does get a little overwhelmed.
No matter where you go, the only way to build confidence is to talk to as many people as you can, be it about work or just a chat over coffee. You can ask as MANY questions as you can. No one will judge you, rather they will appreciate being asked questions as that’s how you will learn and develop within your role.
A placement I would say, in my honest opinion, leads to personal holistic development and a determination to progress and better yourself.
You will meet people from top universities and get to see what they’ve done, what they have achieved, and you will begin to realise the hard work that goes into it. I can say with full faith, once you leave your placement, you’ll leave it having developed a lot, learnt a lot and you will have significantly progressed.
You might also know whether that field is meant for you or not and what you want to do in the future. Most importantly, you’ll have learnt what teamwork is all about. Sharing skills, rekindling knowledge and brainstorming solutions as a team.
In some cases, your team becomes as close as family. After all, you are spending around forty hours with them in a week. That’s something I’ve valued the most after leaving my internship this February.
Another thing I want to mention is the greatness of the professors and the curriculum that they’ve compiled after years of experience. The placement enables us to put the theory to use and brings the book knowledge to life. First years, you will find yourself using a lot of Business Excel and realise that People and Organisations do work in the ways described in the lectures.
Getting back to studies, after having worked full-time, seems different but it’s a really good change which I'm sure you'll enjoy. Getting back to Uni, those PowerPoint presentations, lectures and queuing for the bus, and roaming around the city with your friends are the things that make these years unforgettable. (By the way, I’m working on a blog about some cool food places in the city so watch this space - literally - to check it out if you’re down for some real lip-smacking meals)
Having learnt so much, some final things I would mention before closing off this blog is,
- don’t worry about how many rejections you get, I got a whole load of them and still got a great placement
- don’t worry how well or bad your interview went it’ll all be fine. Just learn from them and you'll do better the next time.
Now you’ve spent a good 10 minutes reading this blog bear in mind that employers will spend a lot less time looking at your application, so make sure that it’s perfect. The smallest of errors can put them off and you could lose an incredible opportunity, so please read and re-read your applications before pressing that send button. Better still, ask someone else to read if for you if you possibly can.
(P.S.- If you need any help, I’m only an email away, firstname.lastname@example.org, it’s open for everyone and not restricted to Indians students only)