Get ahead with your applications this winter!

Guest Blogger#MyPlacementStory, Advice, CVs, Second Year

Hi! My name is Ritesh, and I am a final year German and Spanish student. Last year I completed my placement year. I studied abroad at the University of Paderborn in Germany for the first semester. I made so many amazing memories there and I honestly couldn’t recommend the experience of a year abroad more! For the second semester, I was supposed to study at the University of Granada in Spain, but unfortunately due to the pandemic and visa issues, I couldn’t complete it. Instead, I took the opportunity to do some travelling (in places like Paris, Barcelona, Dublin, Hamburg, and Berlin). I really wanted to make use of the time that I had, and I can honestly say that it was the best year of my life! Let me take you through some tips for applying for placements…

Applying for placements and jobs can seem very daunting, especially as a student who doesn’t really have much experience or much to showcase in a CV. This is what I used to think, and I used to shy away from applying with the fear that my application would be rejected. But, in all honesty, every rejection is a learning curve and almost like a steppingstone to get you to something even bigger and better.

One of the most important things to do is to prepare ahead of time. Last year when I was applying for roles to study and work in both Germany and Spain, I made use of the tools that were available to me as a student at Aston. I found the CV360 software on Aston Futures to be really helpful as it gives you instant feedback on your CV and the parts that are lacking. This helped me to improve my CV before sending it to a Careers and Placements Advisor for some fine-tuning before applying to roles. It was great to be able to get aspects such as the structure and layout of my CV checked by the software, and then using the Careers and Placements Advisors to focus on providing expert feedback on my grammar and wording.

A particular tool I find helpful currently while applying for graduate roles (and one I wish I’d have used last year)  is the mock interview software available via Aston Futures. This software has allowed me to practice a range of interview questions, many of which have been used in the real interviews. Since I’ve already had a go at answering them, it’s meant that I’ve come across more confident and fluid in my responses when being interviewed by an employer. This really helps you to stand out from the crowd because a recruiter is more likely to remember candidates who have given more interesting and specific answers rather than a general rounded reply which they often hear in most cases. I would highly recommend using Interview360 to practice some mock interviews before applying – it definitely put me at ease during the real thing!

Another tip I would give is to do some research into the company, country/city you will be going to, and into the role you’re applying for. Not only will this help to gain an insight into the company and/or the sector of work (showing an employer that you can use your initiative and that you’re genuinely interested in the role/company), but also it gives you a sense of what life will be like in the place you go to. For me especially, my applications revolved around the locations in Germany and Spain. I wanted to be able to see myself actually living there and enjoying my time there. Look at things to do or see in the city (and surrounding areas), look at accessibility to services and transport. After all, you will be spending 6 months to a year of your life there, you want to make the most of it and enjoy every second.

Overall, if you prepare and make use of the resources and support available, you’ll be fine! I would highly recommend getting your applications in as early as possible, especially since most big companies or study abroad opportunities close before the end of the year. Honestly, I have learned so much from my experiences abroad and applying for placements and I can assure you that once you have jumped this hurdle, you will have the most incredible time!

Good luck to everyone applying! 🙂

By Riteshbhai Patel, BSc German and Spanish