A big realisation I made during my placement year was understanding the benefit of seeing mistakes as learning experiences rather than letting myself get disheartened by them. Now I’m starting to apply for graduate roles, I’ve realised the value of the lessons I learned in the application process and how they will help me with my future job hunting.
In hindsight, the way I began my placement search was the first mistake I made. I put myself under a great deal of pressure to just find any placement because I was so panicked that I would go into third year having not secured one. This led me to spreading my time and attention too thinly across a mass of applications – some to placements I wasn’t really interested in. I have learned that the best way to approach applications is to first decide what I want from my role, research the companies and programmes that fit my needs, and only apply for roles that I actually want to do. In doing this, my applications are of a much better quality because I have been able to dedicate a larger portion of my time to researching the company and ensuring we will be a good fit for each other.
Another piece of advice I would go back and tell my second-year self would be to not be so focused on the location of the placement. Although it is important to make sure that you’re in a position where the location is commutable from where you choose to live, by restricting your search by location you may be limiting yourself from seeing some great opportunities. I was convinced that I wanted to stay in my flat in Birmingham and restricted my search to accommodate for this. During my placement year I saw my friends spending the year exploring new cities and working for companies that I hadn’t let myself research. I realised that a year goes so fast and living away from home had some really attractive benefits that I hadn’t considered in my search. My advice would be to broaden your search even if you’re unsure about moving away for the year – you might just find something worth moving for!
Lastly, I can’t talk about learning from mistakes without touching on the most dreaded part of the process – rejections. They are of course disheartening but also getting at least one is usually inevitable. The best piece of advice I can give is to analyse your application to see where you could improve, ask for feedback from the company where possible, and understand that it’s a positive thing that you won’t be working for a company that you’re not suited for – that would be far more uncomfortable than dealing with a rejection!
Good luck with your search!
Written by Libby Jones