Careers and Placements Behind the Scenes: Business Development

Guest BloggerFinal Year, First Year, On Placement, Postgraduate, Second Year

Hello! My name is James and I am a placement student currently working as a Business Development Assistant within the Careers and Placements team. As a current student, I thought it would be insightful to share with you some of the work I have been doing and experiences I’ve had within Careers and Placements to offer some insider info on the workings of the department from a perspective perhaps slightly more relevant to you.

Since joining the department, I have been involved in all sorts of different tasks, met lots of different members of the team (albeit virtually) and seen the work my colleagues do on a daily basis. From becoming accustomed with the inner workings of the department, meeting the team and witnessing all the things Careers and Placements do to help us, the students, it has become abundantly clear to me that they certainly don’t bite. They have our best interests at heart and go above and beyond every day to secure us amazing opportunities.

What is Business Development and how does it benefit you?

Some of you might be wondering what business development is, what role it plays within Careers and Placements and how it benefits you. Business development covers a wide range of activities with the overall goal of growing a business and making the business more successful. Within the Employer Engagement team, we measure our success on how many opportunities we source for graduates and current students.  

In my case, as I am aligned to the postgraduate team, I have the general aim of securing as many placement opportunities for postgraduate students as possible whilst also making sure the opportunities are easy to apply for and students are aware of them. Primarily I work towards this objective by maintaining relationships with businesses we have previously worked with and developing fresh relationships with businesses.

On a day to day basis this looks like phone calls, emails and meetings (currently over web cam) with businesses negotiating the best possible opportunities for students. This can be everything from trying to secure remuneration for placements, ensuring what’s being asked of students is fair and supports their development or just making sure that employer’s intentions are positive and are offering safe and fair working conditions for students.

I have also had the opportunity to work on larger projects such as sourcing feedback from students and businesses on the placement journey, sending weekly mailouts to postgraduates with current opportunities and a monthly newsletter to recent graduates with advice, events, resources and interesting graduate roles. All these projects have been fed into by other members of the team and feed into others work as well with the aim to get relevant information and opportunities to as many students and graduates as possible.

Our business development is driven by information provided by students and we look for the types of opportunities, locations and sectors students have told us they are most interested in as we care about what you want!

For me personally I have found the most satisfaction comes when I am able to press the publish button on Aston Futures for a new and exciting placement opportunity. This is particularly true when this opportunity has been developed through lots of discussion with a passionate business who I can tell will be genuinely invested in and care about the student they hire.

Meeting the team

Prior to starting my placement I was nervous about the challenges of starting a new job remotely and meeting the team virtually. I was conscious about how I would present over webcam, how difficult it might be to get to know people without meeting in person and whether I would be able to integrate into the team successfully.

My worries were proved very quickly to be entirely unnecessary!

The team immediately made me feel extremely comfortable. Someone has always been on hand to offer support for any challenges I’ve faced, and my work has felt genuinely appreciated. Everyone has a genuine investment in each other’s and the student’s success. I went into this position with around five years of full-time work experience under my belt for various different companies and I have never felt more valued or appreciated by a workplace.

It has become clear to me over the last eight months that an ethic of care and investment in the students is held by every single member of staff within Careers and Placements. Although the roles of members of staff are very different, they are all working towards the same goal of getting as many students into their ideal careers and placements as possible. Over the past eight months I have attended both formal and informal meetings with various members of the team but, my absolute highlight had to be my involvement in hosting our virtual Christmas party. I was able to witness some of the Louvre-worthy art skills, competitive edges and great senses of humour held by members of the team in the virtual Pictionary session I hosted.

I have enjoyed my time within Careers and Placements and appreciate the work they do so much so that I chose to extend my placement for an additional six months on a full-time basis.

Accessing the services from the point of view of a student

If you have called the main telephone number for Careers and Placements or sent an email to in the last six months you may recognise my name. The front desk for Careers and Placements is currently being run almost exclusively by placement students (who are all very knowledgeable and friendly) so please don’t be afraid to get in contact. If you are unsure of what services are on offer or who is best suited to support you please get in contact as most of us have been in your shoes and understand the experiences you are having.

Over the course of my placement I have come in to contact with members and services from all aspects of Careers and Placements and I can’t recommend enough that you make use of what is on offer!

Written by James Mileson

Photo by Floriane Vita on Unsplash