Placement Year - The Perks!

As it is often said, ‘nothing that is worthwhile ever comes easy’, so is the case of a year in Industry. A student will be required to overcome various hurdles before finally crossing the finish line. Offering students to spend a year in Industry has become common amongst Universities across the world. Its importance and advantage is often stressed upon by recruiters, lecturers and students. It is also said that students that have spent a year in Industry have a greater chance of securing a job after graduation than those that have not spent a year in Industry.

Kemal Istikan and Melissa Ashby are fourth year Business Studies students that conducted their placement years in the Kent County Council and Walt Disney respectively. They each speak of their experience and advice future placement students.

What was the application process like?

K.I: The application process was lengthy, as I’d expected. I had to complete an online psychometric testing with the attachment of my CV, before my interview. I was then invited to my initial interview at the head office. I was required to present what I could offer the organisation in 5 minutes; this was followed by questions about why I was the ideal candidate for the position. The successful candidates were then invited to an Assessment Centre that conducted group tasks in order to identify behavioural characteristics. This was then followed by yet another gruelling interview with the team leader and the assistant team leader.

M.A: The application process consisted of an extensive application form that took a lot of time and commitment to complete. Luckily for me, the department that I had applied for only undertook an interview and no dreaded assessment centre. I was interviewed by two members of the department’s management team. The interview lasted for about an hour, where the interviewers asked a range of questions ranging from general questions about the economy to questions about the company and my knowledge of the market it operates in.

 What was it like working in your chosen organisation? 

 K.I: Extensively repetitive and became less challenging as experience and knowledge increased. Customer service is deemed more vital than finding a solution and resolving the problem. Management is very autocratic and HRM does not exist in KCC.

 M.A: Disney was an amazing place to work for, never a dull moment. They dedicate a lot of time towards making their staff feel valued and involved. They do this through extensive communication via emails and out of office events such as talks from senior executives. They also provide a range of perks such as tickets for film previews.

 Before and after your year in Industry - what would you say has changed the most about you? And what is the greatest thing you gained?

 K.I: My attitude towards work, and motivation changed the most, whereas the experience and networking links was the greatest thing I gained.

 M.A: I have become incredibly determined and focused on my studies. The greatest thing I gained was, without a doubt, the invaluable experience of learning how such a large multinational entertainment company operates. I also learnt how to effectively network.

 Would you recommend a year in Industry?

K.I: 100% - The experience is priceless.

 M.A: I would definitely recommend a placement year; there is so much to learn by being out in the world of work, and so much knowledge and additional skills that you pick up that come in very handy during your final year of studies.

 What is the best possible advice you can give to future placement students? 

K.I: Always act in a professional manner; this will get you very far! Work place environments can be fun; however there is a time and a place for that. Another tip would be, portraying yourself as an individual that continuously wants to learn, organisations love employees like these!

 M.A: Enjoy your placement year, treat every day and task you complete as experience, and try to get as much out of it as possible. Also, NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK!!

 How helpful was the University with the entire process? 

 K.I: It was useful in terms of guidance and ensuring you are continuously applying for jobs; however it’s down to the students to search, to apply and to participate. The University, however, could have been more helpful in terms of partnering up with Local Businesses to ensure no student is left out off the Placement experience. 

 M.A: The University was quite helpful during the application process. The careers service was incredibly helpful, with guidance on how to write my CV to preparation for the interviews. Although I feel there could have been more help for finding a placement company, however, I believe this has been improved on since I was applying for my placement.