How I got my job: Research and Leadership Scholarship summer placement

If you’re considering a summer placement this year, why not look in to a Research and Leadership scholarship? That’s just what Karolis Velicka did, here he tells you how he made his summer placement happen!


About me

I am currently a second year Computer Science student and I have been awarded the Research and Leadership Scholarship by the University of Leeds. This scholarship is available in many departments of the university and is a great opportunity for anyone looking to do something extraordinary with their summer – the scholarship comes with two paid summer placements. For me the best thing is that the topic of your placement is entirely up to you, as long as it is in your department of study!

Plan for the future

During my first year I knew I would spend my summer in Leeds so I wanted to make the most of it. I had considered a few options – working overtime in my part-time job, volunteering or looking for a summer placement. I wanted to get something that would be useful to me in the future and would be interesting to do. The placement option was the most appealing to me.

Leave no stone unturned

I was rather constrained last year – I could only take up a placement in Leeds and first year placements are not all that common. As a result, no single site had too many options to choose from. I had to search through the different vacancy sites, including STARS and look for available opportunities. Fortunately, the School of Computing sometimes advertises vacancies via emails to students. This is where I have found the Research and Leadership Scholarship.

Using the Careers Centre

The application form was very simple in comparison to most large companies that take students on. It consisted of personal details, grades and a 300 word long cover letter.  Due to the standardised nature of the application, it was clear that the cover letter was the only part where I could highlight my personal qualities, ambitions and desire to get the scholarship.

I turned to the Careers Centre for assistance. In total, I had my cover letter redacted at least five times. During the process I learned just how useful the advisers were and the value of visiting the Careers Centre more than once. After two redactions of my initial letter, I was told to rewrite it completely. At first I did not think that was a good idea but I decided to give it a go anyway. I was a lot happier with the new version and subsequent edits were very minor because my letter was specific and tailored to the role. This helped to make my application rock solid and I thought it stood a good chance of being favoured by the person reading it.

Key points to remember  

  • When planning your next summer, consider doing a placement. They tend to be very interesting and not too stressful – it is still about learning after all. 
  • Do look at what your parent school has to offer in addition to external companies since the former tend to be a lot more flexible. 
  • The Careers Centre is invaluable when it comes to editing CVs, covering letters and applications. For engineers, the new Engineering Employability suite  is great as well. Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages. 
  • Listen to any constructive feedback you are given, evaluate it and make changes if you feel they are necessary. 
  • Make the most of your placement and work hard to ensure you make a good impression.

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Filed under Advice, CVs & Applications, How I got my job

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