Catherine Smith has just completed the 2nd year of her Geography degree at Leeds and will be spending next year on an industrial placement with RMP Enterprise. Here she shares her experiences of securing the placement and advice for fellow students looking for placements
From August I will be one of five interns starting work at RMP Enterprise, the company behind RateMyPlacement – an online tool which advertises placement years for students alongside student written reviews.
What I’ll be doing
My role as a marketing assistant involves a number of different aspects. Firstly it is about increasing awareness of RMP Enterprise and what it can offer students. This will be done through social media, attending university careers fairs and organising competitions to get people engaged with the company. Specifically, I will also be responsible for the recruitment of the next year’s interns.
Finding the placement
When I first started the ‘placement hunt’ it was a very daunting experience: There is so much information available that getting started can feel very overwhelming. From the start I was very clear I would prefer to work for a small company and information about what they offer are not always as easy to find as that for larger organisations. However, utilising resources from the careers centre and websites such as www.ratemyplacement.co.uk makes the process so much easier and it is possible to quickly filter down your options.
Off-the-wall questions and musical interviews
To secure this role I had to complete an online application, Skype interview and finally attend an assessment day. RMP Enterprise were looking for someone chiefly who could fit into the company ethos. From start to finish the application process was not what I expected! I was asked questions such as ‘what was your favourite biscuit and why,’ had to sing a song over Skype to my interviewer and (as part of a team- building task) I became a London monument with three other team members! The company value creativity and innovation and another intern was hired on a ‘wildcard’ basis; being invited to the assessment day as a result of a tweet they sent to the company.
The value of my extra-curricular activities
As a geography student I was also competing with people who were completing marketing or PR specific degrees. I attended three assessment days for different companies and only met one other non-business related degree student. Because of this, I really used my work experience and extra-curricular activities to demonstrate my capabilities. I had completed work experience at big PR Company in London, but the thing most employers commented on was my society involvement. As team captain of Leeds University Union Dancesport my role taught me so much about teamwork, leadership and communication; the things employers are looking for. It also demonstrated enthusiasm and passion on my behalf. I cannot stress enough the importance of not only having relevant experience but also packaging this and presenting it to employers, making the most of what you have to offer.
Advice to other students
So as I am working in a placement company it is only right I offer up some tips! Here are my top 3 tips when considering a placement year:
- YOU have to love the job as much as they love you, do not apply if it is not right for you.
- Present your experience in a way that really appeals to your potential employer, the key is tailoring.
- Make them remember you, whether by an interesting anecdote in an interview or by using social media- make your name the one that sticks in their mind.