My placement journey started last year in September 2015– it’s crazy to think of how fast the entire year has gone! I can still remember feeling so anxious and nervous, and admittedly, not really knowing what to expect.
I’ve learnt a lot over the last year, and below are my key lessons for anyone who’s looking to do a placement this year.
How to find the perfect Industrial Placement
The search for a placement can be a long and excruciating one. Application forms, cvs, cover letters – everything is so time consuming.
When it comes to ‘finding the perfect placement’, it’s all about picking a role that you believe you’ll enjoy. You’ve also got to look for a placement where you feel it’ll be a mutual benefit for you and the employer.
Know what you want and do your research
In my opinion, the most important thing to consider when you start looking for the perfect work experience placement is to consider what you really want to get out of that year. Knowing this can help you strategically pick which companies and roles you want to go for.
Consider your career goals for the future or if you’re not too sure what exactly it is you want to do in the future, then it might be worth thinking about what type of role you think you’d enjoy or what kind of company you’d like to work for. Once you have a general understanding of these questions, it can help narrow down your search so it meets your specific needs.
When on your search for a placement, being well prepared and organised is so important. I’d recommend making a list of all the vacancies you want to apply to and listing the application deadlines. This way you lower your chances of forgetting a deadline and missing it!
Always remember many companies (especially larger ones) have so many applications to get through, so the earlier you get yours in front of them the better.
How to make the most out of your placement
Like most things, with a placement year, you get out what you put in. It’s important to set goals for yourself, work towards them and continually set new goals in order to see yourself grow throughout the year. Having a development plan and a clear outline of what you want to achieve during the year will help keep you on track.
By now, as a university student I’m sure you’ll already know that there is no substitute for hard work. At Nationwide, I found that working hard isn’t necessarily about staying long hours and not taking a break; the focus is on getting more out of your work hours. Putting in effort and going the extra mile is always appreciated.
“ One of the main things I learnt early on in my placement is the fact that it’s okay to not know everything as long as you show a willingness to learn. ”
Your employer isn’t expecting you to know everything, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. A placement year gave me the opportunity to have hands-on learning, which is what made it so different to university.
You should take on extra responsibility if you have the capacity. Ultimately the more you can take on, the more experience you have to take with you away from the placement year. Always ask questions if you’re unsure. When I initially begun working I wanted to prove myself to my team and that put me in a position where I was sometimes scared to ask questions or let the team know I didn’t know how to do something. I soon realised that it’s so much better to ask when you don’t know something, it saves you having to do guess-work or looking silly in the long run.
Life is all about balance. All work and no play isn’t good for anyone – so make sure you also make time to do the things you enjoy. Being social and getting involved with out of office events helps you to get to know your team on a more personal level and builds friendships that you otherwise may not have built in the office.
I moved to a completely new town for my placement where I didn’t know anyone so this forced me to get out of my comfort zone and make friends! I was also lucky enough to have a team that I really bonded with, as well as the rest of the graduate intake for this year.
During my induction we were continuously told that networking is one of the key ingredients to a successful career -I have definitely learnt that during my time at Nationwide. It’s just as much about who you know as well as what you know. People are so important so take time to have face to face interactions and build relationships across the business. You never know who you may need for your next project, assignment or even promotion in the future!
My Marketing Industrial Placement at Nationwide
Pictured above: Brand & Attraction team. From left to right: Steph, Amanda, Lee, Kate.
I’m in my final month of my 12-month placement at Nationwide. I’ve spent my placement working in Resourcing in the Brand and Attraction team.
Traditionally in Marketing, the focus is on marketing a product, but in my HR role, my focus is on marketing jobs (as opposed to products) and promoting the Nationwide employer brand.
I’m been responsible for the Nationwide-careers social media platforms, as well as looking after a part of the careers site. This role has given me a lot of exposure as I often worked with employees from across the business, finding exciting stories to feature on our careers site.
“ I’ve been surprised by the amount of responsibility and trust I was given in my role. ”
I was never treated any differently as a placement year student, and I was given the creative freedom I needed to be able to deliver my outcomes.
The best part of my job is that I get to combine my two strengths; creativity and writing. When I was younger I wanted to be a journalist but as I grew up my aspirations changed but I still enjoyed writing. So I’m happy to have been in a job where I can live the best of both worlds.
Nationwide has such a friendly culture. As much as I love my role, I would say my favourite thing about my time here has been the people. Everyone is really friendly and are always willing to help.
There’s a positive ethos around work/life balance. Throughout the year, I still had time for my personal life. My evenings and weekends were always mine to spend however I wanted, unlike university where I’d feel guilty for lazing around instead of revising!
I do believe that the good work/life balance is a reason why the culture at Nationwide is relaxed and friendly – no one seems to be angry or walking around like a zombie because we are treated like people instead of machines.
Throughout the year, I was lucky to be able to get involved with some really fun aspects of recruitment marketing. For example, I featured in the Not Your Day Job campaign, Information Management video – working with filming agencies and feeling like a film star was a fun break out of the office!
I also attended an awards ceremony where my team were nominated for Best recruitment website, took on big projects throughout the society such as Ada Lovelace Day, and many more! So all in all, it’s been a good year.
One of the key pieces of advice I’ve received whilst here was from my mentor, Craig. He said:
“ Build a career on your strengths. Its just as important to focus on your strengths as well as weaknesses. If you build a career on your strengths, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for a successful career. ”
That really stuck with me and I know I’ll carry that gem with me for years to come!
I would like to personally thank Nationwide and specifically the Resourcing team for giving me an amazing year in Industry. Returning to university will definitely be bitter-sweet but I’ve learnt so much and made some great friends along the way.