Careers and Placements Behind the Scenes: Placements

AbbyFinal Year, First Year, On Placement, Postgraduate, Second Year

I’m currently on placement within the Study Abroad Placements team in Careers and Placements. The placements team is responsible for helping students to secure placements, whether it’s through reviewing CVs and cover letters, running mock interviews, having appointments, or running webinars.

There is no average working day in the Study Abroad team. Every time I log into Outlook in the morning, a different set of tasks await me. From providing vital suggestions on students’ CVs and cover letters, to maintaining high levels of professionalism when communicating with important stakeholders, carrying out Front Desk duties, and helping to organize the International Placements inbox.

A 9:45am buzz meeting within the department is the perfect way for colleagues across different teams to communicate any valuable information which could be vital for everyone’s days’ work. The chance for everybody on the team to speak to each other in the morning has become increasingly important whilst working remotely, and those 15 minutes, no matter how short, have come to serve an increasingly useful purpose in terms of creating a sense of teamwork and togetherness, as working from home can become lonely and it can be easy to feel isolated.

One important aspect of working within the Study Abroad team is monitoring the International Placements inbox. Through this, we liaise with partner universities around the world, and maintain positive professional relationships with them. Given the many potential logistical issues that have arisen as a result of Covid-19, being open and clear with all stakeholders is vital to maintaining interest in Study Abroad placements and reassuring those who have decided to take a placement or study placement abroad that they’ve made the correct choice.

Having a highly professional and informative CV and cover letter is essential when applying for a new job or placement. Therefore, it’s also important for us within the department to maintain these same high standards when reviewing their documents. One example of this would be the 3-day turnover rule. This means that no students’ CV or cover letter will remain un-reviewed for more than 3 days, as many students will have application deadlines that need to be met as soon as possible. Having a high-quality document when applying to for a role in this increasingly competitive job market is key, so we make sure we go through each one with a fine-tooth comb looking for any grammatical or spelling errors as well as making sure students haven’t undersold themselves to potential employers.

Working on the Careers and Placements front desk also comes with its challenges. Having to balance a wide range of responsibilities such as responding to emails in the careers inbox as well as answering calls from students, parents and employers can be difficult at times.  However, it gives me the opportunity to test my work-load management skills and showcase my customer service abilities. Whether it be referring a graduate to a Careers Consultant in order to help them with their job search or directing a potential recruiter for a placement opportunity to the Employer Engagement teams, maintaining professionalism and high levels of customer service at all times is imperative. For many students, the front desk is the first port of call when contacting the Careers and Placements department, so remaining calm when interacting with them is very important. Especially in recent times, due to the problems caused by Covid-19, many students have become anxious about the possibility of missing out on their ideal placement so reassuring them and signposting them to the relevant member of the team can be of great help when dealing with these stresses. Likewise, maintaining good relationships with employers is also important given the current issues surrounding the economy, so communicating with companies in a positive manner will only help to strengthen these relationships.

I have really enjoyed my placement experience within the Study Abroad team, and found it incredibly valuable when gaining transferable skills for my future career.

Written by Rafi Anwer Shade

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash