Meera shares tips on getting ahead with your placement applications

Guest BloggerAdvice, UK Placements, Work Experience

Meera is currently on her placement as an Engineering Intern with Nestlé and shares some tips on how she got ahead with her placement search during her second year.

When it comes to applying for placements, it’s easy to put it off and think it’s a problem for the future to worry about. But why wait, when you can get ahead of the game now? As someone who struggled through the placement search, I can attest to the relief of preparing early and completing most of my applications by December. Here are some of my top tips for minimal-stress success:

Cover letters

Cover letters are an excellent way to show your genuine interest in a company, and I highly recommend including one, even if it’s optional. To make it easier, create a base letter with a “fill the blank” approach. This way you can tailor the document and simplify the process of applying to multiple companies, ultimately saving you time and hassle. For example,

Dear (hiring managers name)

As a (qualities that stand for the company’s values) student, I was keen to apply for (company name) …. etc.

Another tip for success is personalising each cover letter for each company and its own speciality. I found this to be effective by creating both a structural and civil-focused base letter when applying for engineering placements, which was then easier to alter to suit each application. Additionally, remember that you can apply to the same company for separate roles. Just make sure the cover letter is more role-specific to increase your chances of success.

CVs are also essential – No matter if you’re a newbie or a pro. Whether you’ve only got a summer warehouse gig to show off or a ton of experience. You can still shine with your professional summary and skill set – Just make sure to mention what you’ve learned in your courses and show off your eagerness to learn in your personal description, and you’ll be good to go!

Be honest but not too honest

When it comes to job applications, you’ll likely have to tackle a behavioural exam before you can even submit your form. These exams usually consist of 20-60 multiple-choice questions designed to see if your ethics align with the company’s. It can be frustrating to spend so much time answering questions only to get rejected, but don’t let that discourage you! Stay true to yourself while also telling them what they want to hear. And don’t worry if the assessments are a bit wacky – I once had to play computer games to test my quick decision-making skills!

If it’s not an assessment it will be what feels like thesis-type questions about your particular interest in the company and role. My advice? Don’t waste time writing a new essay-worthy answer every time you come across a question that requires it. Instead, quarter your time and keep your answers in the notes app. You can refer them later to save time and avoid starting from scratch. Why start from scratch when you’ve already written a perfect answer?

And if you want to take it a step further, using AI to make your answers more concise and impactful isn’t a bad idea either. It might sound like cheating, but it’s a smart way to make the most of your time and resources.

Just keep pushing forward and don’t lose momentum, even if the assessments extend the application process!

Use your Resources

If you’re unsure of where to start, Aston Futures is a lifesaver when it comes to finding placements, offering opportunities to study abroad in places like Korea or Spain and providing support for your course. You can even subscribe to their email list to stay up to date on the latest opportunities. As an engineering student, I also found Gradcracker and to be incredibly helpful. Sure, some of these websites require sign-ups, but trust me – it’s worth it! During the peak of my application hunt, I was constantly getting emails about new job openings, and it was a game-changer. I also highly recommend starting the application process early. Not only does it relieve stress for the upcoming year, but it also shows companies that you’re an organized and proactive individual. Plus, you’ll have a better chance of landing your dream job if you’re one of the first applicants they see. So don’t wait until the last minute – start early and give yourself the best shot at success!


Once you make it to the interview process, be prepared for it to last anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day of activities. My advice? Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Instead, be yourself and let your enthusiasm for the job shine through. Don’t pretend to know something you don’t – it’s better to be honest and willing to learn. Show the interviewer that you’re excited about the opportunity and willing to put in the work. It also helps to get some background knowledge on the company and keep a notepad and pen on you. That’s what will really sell them on you as a candidate. So don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your passion for the job come through loud and clear!

Don’t be gutted

What rubbish advice right? Receiving a generic rejection letter after investing so much time and effort into an application can be disheartening. However, it’s important to remember that persistence is key in the job search process. While it may seem like a game of chance, the more applications you submit, the higher your chances of success. Think of it as increasing your odds of hitting the jackpot. So, don’t be discouraged by a rejection letter. Keep applying and your hard work will pay off.

This blog is written by Meera-Sophia Mistry

Photo by ThisIsEngineering: