I am currently on my placement year in Stevenage working for an international defence company in their Supply Chain and Procurement department. In my first 2 months I have travelled to Paris with work, am going to Whitehall to sit in on meetings regarding Brexit and have responsibility for multiple projects, giving me a wealth of experience. If you had told me I would be doing all this this time last year, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I don’t say these things to brag, but rather to demonstrate that trust me, it is possible to get a great placement. Before this year, the most ‘professional’ experience I had was a week at my local newspaper, alongside 5 years working on and off as a waitress. Yet, when I was at an interview for a business placement, going against 5 business management students, I got the job. This is my first piece of advice, don’t think you’re underqualified. I asked this question to a number of recruiters and they all said that there’s no harm in applying for positions you might not be qualified for, the worst they can do is reject you.
It’s important to have a target to stop yourself from drowning in application forms
My second piece of advice is to have a target. This doesn’t necessarily have to be related to what you want to do in your career. Placements are an excellent opportunity to try something different; but, there are so many placements out there that it’s important to have a target to stop yourself from drowning in application forms. My ‘niche’ was an international company in the defence industry. I narrowed this further by dismissing placements in locations I did not want to be. While I still applied to places like Disney and Dyson, my applications for defence related companies were far better, because I had a clear direction and a purpose behind them.
My final tip would be simply do not give up. One of my good friends got her placement 4 days before she started 3rd year! Another one got his placement in the summer following 2nd year, yet several got placements before Christmas. Companies do it differently depending on the number of applicants and the resources they have for recruitment. When two of my housemates had got placements before Christmas of Second Year, I panicked and began applying for placements I had no desire to work for, out of pure desperation, yet I came back to Uni in January with 4 interviews. Don’t stress, yes not everyone gets the placement of their dreams, but if you persevere you have just as good a chance as everyone else.