Anastacia Kruglova is a BSc Environmental Science student, currently on a year in industry with Building Engineering Company, Couch Perry Wilkes. Here she shares her experiences of searching for and securing a placement, along with her tips for other students.
My name is Anastacia and this year I am undertaking a placement year in CouchPerryWilkes engineering company as a part of my BSc Environmental Science. Some of my duties include thermal modelling of buildings, low-carbon technologies application and assessment of energy efficiency. Initially, I had not really considered working in the Engineering sector, however, thanks to my placement I have realised that there are lots of sectors where such a degree like mine can be applied. A placement is a fantastic opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge, gain vital skills and build networks. All these and many other perks might arise thanks to placement. There are lots of good placements out there, however, I found that it can take a while to find a good one.
It is better to start searching early. For instance, I started looking for and applying for placements in September. There are plenty of sources such as Careers Centre vacancy database, school or faculty resources (e.g. in my faculty there is @seeplacements on Twitter and the Facebook group “SOEE Placements Group“) and various placement/graduate websites such as ratemyplacement and gradcracker (for Engineering & Technology roles). It is also a good idea to contact previous placement students to gain additional information and support.
However, these sources weren’t that useful in my case as I didn’t find many opportunities that really interested me. After searching for a long time in “known” sources I made my own list of companies which focus on agenda that interests me the most: For me, these were mainly sustainability, environment, health and safety, and energy efficiency. After making the list I began contacting these companies with my details; CV, cover letter and aims. Finally, I was contacted by HR Manager working for my current placement provider and I was invited for an interview, where I had to describe my intentions and future plans.
Preparation is the Key
Another challenge is a CV and cover letter preparation. Overall, I sent about 30 CVs and cover letters in total and was invited for four interviews. I’d suggest having your CV and cover letter checked by the Careers Centre as they know how to make your CV stand out from the others. If successful you will usually be invited for an interview. For me personally, interviewing was the hardest part, as employers tend to check not only your degree knowledge, but also check your personality qualities (i.e. resilience, creativity), your suitability as a team member, reaction to stressful situations, ability to communicate in a professional manner and many others. It is vital to be as prepared as possible for various questions, and in my case I found having a mock interview with the Careers Centre was really helpful.
My tips for success
Placements are tough to get as there is a wide range of other suitable candidates competing for the same position. Do not get frustrated and depressed if you get rejected at first; your CV preparation and interview skills will improve and the amount of candidates will diminish. Time management is also extremely important as throughout the whole year you will tend to have course works, exams, seminars, social clubs, sport, etc., so it may seem that there is no time for application processes. I would suggest devote a couple of hours a week for searching, CV preparation and application.
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