Placement is mandatory on my course and I managed to secure mine at BMW Group UK Head Office in Farnborough, as the Customer Experience and Innovation Assistant in the Marketing Department. This was a 13-month placement, July to July, with no rotations in any other roles in the business, so I was able to benefit from experiencing the role over different seasons and fully integrating with my team.
How I chose my placement?
When it came to selecting a placement, I had no idea what I was looking for. I was naïve to company culture, commuting and professional offices, so I selected the criteria I thought would benefit me the most – an instantly recognisable brand to go on my CV and a company that I believed in, both product and perceived company culture - I also knew I wanted to avoid London as I didn’t fancy big city life. I narrowed down my list to some consultancy, technology and automotive companies, then I relied on the placements portal for companies the university knew as I knew very little myself.
I applied to 7 placements in total and found that 5 stage processes were fairly typical of large companies. Online Application/CV to Online Tests to Telephone/Video Interview to Assessment Centre to Interview. This was hard to juggle during coursework periods and in hindsight I should have reduced my hours as an Ambassador and prioritised my wellbeing as it is easy to get overrun with applications. The School of Management’s policy is to accept the first placement you’re offered to maintain employer relationships, so I ended up cancelling Assessment Centre’s at two big employers after accepting BMW. I’d never imagined getting a placement, let alone rejecting companies, so I sought help on how to do this and manage relationships with these companies. Despite the application process being heavy, I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit companies, interview and attend assessment centres because it prepared me so much for time management challenges during placement as well as the graduate job search I am in now.
How was my placement?
Honestly, placement was tough, but I am so glad I stuck at it because the rewards were far greater than the tough days. It was the biggest learning curve of my life. I love to prepare everything, but I couldn’t because I didn’t know what I was going into. I had planned which modules would help which elements of my job and how I could link academic theories to innovative ideas, but this was nearly redundant because I learnt that even if I could recite the course back to front, sideways and in reverse, without the power of influence and persuasion, no one would buy my ideas and believe what I was saying. I also learnt the value of team relationships, mentors across the company and experience in other departments to open my field of vision. I have to be honest and say I made mistakes, some little like typos in emails, others large, like a strained relationship with a colleague, but I learnt from them all. Although I could have managed it better, I think it has taught me wherever you go there will be people you get along with and you don’t, you have to figure out how to guide yourself throughout those relationships. My biggest learnings from placement weren’t the academic ones. I think it’s so important learn what you want from working life - like I never want to commute or see the M4 ever again, but if I have too, I want to do it in a nice car!