First steps for finding a placement

Guest BloggerFirst Year, International Placements, UK Placements

With your first year at Aston coming to an end, it’s never too early to get a head start on your second year. So, here are the first steps I’d advise you to take to help you secure your dream placement.

Whether you want to find a work placement in the UK or overseas, study abroad, or even combine the two, there are countless options to make the most of this year and all the wonderful experiences you will gain from it!

Research roles

Your placement doesn’t always have to be directly linked to your degree at all – you may be studying Biology but want to go into Business or Finance, and that’s perfectly fine! In fact, companies encourage you to explore an area that really interests you.

To research roles, this entails a simple Google search of various placement opportunities and roles within certain companies. It’s best to look at job descriptions and even save them for reference, so that you’re aware of the day-to-day tasks of an intern if you’re looking for a work placement.

Similarly, if you’re considering studying abroad, look at the universities Aston has partnerships with, see which ones appeal to you, and even list modules that may be of interest. You have to write a letter explaining your motivations for wanting to study abroad, so doing this research will give you a head start on that.

Top tip: Make a LinkedIn account and connect with previous company interns to ask them about their experiences (especially if they’re fellow Aston students!)

Update and tailor your CV

Every role and company are different, and your CV should reflect and suit what you apply for. I remember having 5 different versions of my CV at least, depending on the role and industry I applied for, and this is something you should definitely keep in mind. So now whilst you have time, update your CV with any work experience you’ve got, your grades and even the small personal profile usually at the top of a CV, which summarises your skills and knowledge. I’ve included an example below, which is from a sample that the Careers and Placements team created.

And, from experience, I’d say engage early on with the Careers and Placements team – they can give you valuable feedback on your CV if you send it them over email or book an appointment with them to discuss it in person.

Stay organised from the beginning

This point is really important when looking for a placement, as keeping on top of everything really helps – especially as the workload in second year inevitably increases.

Personally, I had a Google Drive folder called ‘Placements’ and within that had a folder for each company I wanted to apply for. I actually think this helped me so much, as it meant everything relevant to a particular role was easily accessible – which was perfect for when I started preparing for potential interviews later down the line!

Another way is updating your profile on Aston Futures, and making sure to turn on email alerts in your settings. That way you’ll receive notifications about Careers Fairs, for example, which are a prime time to engage with employers. These fairs usually happen in October/November, so do keep an eye out for potential opportunities (this is where I first met my placement provider, so it’s really valuable!)

Know when to apply

This is easier said than done, but what I mean is to make a note of deadlines for placements that interest you. You’d be surprised how some people miss out on amazing placement opportunities just because they didn’t apply as soon as they could!

Some practical tips I would recommend are:

  • Look at placement opening dates and deadlines, and make a note of them in your diary or online calendar. (Bright Network also have a fantastic career calendar!)
  • If a deadline is ‘rolling’, this means the employer will close applications as soon as they have filled their spaces, so it’s best to apply as soon as you can.
  • Use an Excel spreadsheet or tracker for placements you want and their open dates/deadlines so you can reserve a time each week to apply for them (you can find a tracker template that Careers and Placements have put together for you on Blackboard).
  • Follow Careers and Placements on social media – they regularly post about placement opportunities on there. It’s also worth following TARGETjobs too.

Engage with webinars

I decided to add this one in, as it’s quite suited to our current climate. Many employers are offering the chance for you to engage with them virtually through webinars, and this is a great way for you to see if a company and their roles interest you!

To conclude, I hope these tips help – remember the earlier you start your placement search, the better! Plus, even by incorporating just one of these tips, you are already getting a head start. Do also reach out to the Careers and Placements team for help.

Good luck with your search! 🙂

Written by Zafirah Nurmamodo, Careers+Placements Associate