Think you’ve missed the boat for placement years? Read on….

As you begin semester 2, you may be searching for a year-out placement opportunity. One of the common assumptions we hear from students at this time of year is that all the good placements have gone, as some recruiters close their vacancies around Christmas time. Some students are anxious that they’ve missed their chance if they haven’t secured an offer yet. If this sounds like you – don’t worry! There are still plenty of opportunities to be sought and we’re here to help. We’re offering our best advice and tips to find the right placement, as well as hearing from recent students who found their own placement opportunities in semester 2!

Where can you find placement opportunities in semester 2?

Some of the websites our past students have used and recommended are the Bright Network, LinkedIn Jobs board, Indeed, CareerConnect, Gradcracker, Rate my Placement and Google jobs. However, it’s always a great idea to actually look at organisations you hope to work for. Regularly check the careers section of their website and follow them on social media to see what opportunities they have available. It’s not just about finding advertised opportunities though. Using creative job search techniques and networking strategies are a great way to find the less well known or unadvertised opportunities.

We spoke with several students who successfully found their placements in semester 2 to hear what advice they have for penultimate year students currently looking!

Finding the right placement

“Definitely keep an eye out on LinkedIn/7th page onwards on Indeed to look for last minute offers by bigger companies that may not have made it to the top of the lists yet. In terms of networks… I found Manchester’s CareerConnect and connections formed with industrial partners to be particularly useful during my search for placements.” – Shruthi Natarajan

“Being flexible pays off and networking well at your assessment centre [if you attend one held by an organisation during your placement search] might help you get the coveted placement.” – Maria-Madalina Ifrim

“Look at options you may not have considered, like other businesses or summer internships – sometimes the right job is actually with a company you would never have considered!” – Kez Gill-Stevens

“My advice would be to keep an open mind and not close yourself off to any opportunities that you find!! I’d definitely recommend reaching out to your placement coordinators at university for extra support and advice!!” – Emma Harrison

Don’t get discouraged

“I firmly believe that if you persist with the search then you will secure a placement eventually, just be patient, and don’t be too disheartened with any rejections or if it seems that those around you are being successful.” – Dominic Westcott

“My advice to students would be to not get discouraged by rejections! Past rejections, no matter how painful, have no bearing on the outcome of future applications. Use the knowledge and skills you’ve picked up to fine tune your application and approach.” – Bessam Saleh

“The biggest piece of advice would be to just keep at it – from September to December I had maybe one or two interviews despite applying consistently every day. I also think it is possible to create your own opportunities by cold emailing and I had a high success rate with this, although the opportunity I ended up taking was a direct application.” – Ananya Basul-Kaul

Take a different approach

“I tried using different approaches to find placements with companies, of different sizes and in slightly different industries. It took many months to hear back from some of them; sometimes I thought I was close to an offer but was then rejected. I ended up with two offers in the end, received in May and June. As long as companies are looking for students, there is a chance for you.” – Bessam Saleh

“It really is a numbers game and it’s important to not get demoralised. However, it’s also important to realise that if you are applying consistently and not converting at least a few into interviews post two months then it’s worthwhile to look again at your strategy, get your CV reviewed professionally and look at some examples of successful cover letters (the last one helped me the most).” – Ananya Basul-Kaul

“I got rejected from a lot of nuclear companies due to needing security clearance [a challenge as an international student] — but I soon found the industries and roles that appealed most to me, which helped me tailor my applications and maximise the impact I had in each interview.” – Shruthi Natarajan

Hopefully hearing from others in your position has convinced you that there are still plenty of opportunities out there! Don’t be tempted to give up and remember that here at the Careers Service we have plenty of ways to support you this semester. It may be a good time to take stock, consider if your CV is tailored enough, or if you might need to hone your interview technique. It may even be time to consider different employers or slightly different roles. The Careers Service is here to help you navigate all of this! Visit our website and explore our one-to-one appointment offer and the Pathways on CareerConnect for a whole host of ways we can support you to continue in your placement quest!

Looking for further advice on placements? Speak to your course programmes office to find out who is best placed in your school to help with placements.

With special thanks to the following placement students for their contributions;
• Maria-Madalina Ifrim, (BSc Marketing/ Marketing Management) – Placement at RCI Bank/Groupe Renault as a Data analytics and Marketing Analyst
• Shruthi Natarajan, (MEng Chemical Engineering) Placement at PepsiCo UK’s Walkers Factory incorporating Efficiency Improvements, Project Management, Finance and Marketing
• Emma Harrison (BSocSc Sociology), Placement at CityYear as a Volunteer Mentor supporting disadvantaged young people
• Ananya Basul-Kaul (Anthropology and Political Science BASS) Placement at SEO (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, diversity and inclusion charity) IBD and Asset Management Programme
• Kez Gill-Stevens, (BSc Physics) – Placement at The Met Office as an Operational Meteorological Technician
• Bessam Saleh (MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering), Placement at Cummins as an Electrical and Controls Engineer
• Dominic Westcott, (MEng Chemical Enineering ) Placement at EDF UK as a Nuclear Safety Engineer

Written by Sophie Coller, Careers Consultant, Humanities

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