Before joining this University, I had absolutely no idea about placement year or even how to prepare an internship. To start off, I did not even know where I wanted to work. From an outside perspective, International Hospitality and Tourism can be a stereotype of either hotel or tourism related jobs and at least that’s what I thought too. However, after about six month at Surrey, my ideal picture changed completely. I got to know there are much more to think about. In a positive feedback I had more options where I could consider various chances further.
As an international student, finding a placement position brings hardship. You will also need to burden twice more time and effort than anyone around. One thing I can say for sure is making into a habit brings less stress which later can save more time. Writing an outstanding CV and cover letter requires multiples of overlook and editing. Show it to your friends, professors, visit the Student Careers’ Office (next to the accommodation building) and more on. I guarantee it does get better every time you take 15~30 minutes to open, read through and edit few words. Especially writing a CV is complete opposite of 3000 words assignment you may have took a night to hand in and got 80% last week.
Okay, so when is the perfect time to start looking for a job? Personally, I started from September 2016. At the time, I had a strong vibe I should just give up if I don’t end up getting in. That continued until January 2017. I took a break back home then I could think straight. I sat down and thought why I only ended up getting one interview offer from October to January. (Later, even for an Interview with Toyota, I was not able to answer simple questions given. The worst thing was I did not feel bad about the situation, which I should have)
I discovered plenty of issues within my attitude and approaches which I can narrow into three main problems. First, I only applied three firms therefore, it was obvious I had less chances of getting back. Second, my CV looked dreadful. It must have been because I put no effort to show anyone nor to enhance it any other way. Last was my mindset. I did not know where I wanted to go, so I only applied Auto companies just because I liked cars. Hence, I was not that serious about this situation. I remember getting stressed out and upset for rejections but thinking about it now, I think the only person I should have felt bad was myself for not trying.
The first thing I’ve done was to rewrite the resume. Then booked an appointment with the Career’s Centre, visited my personal tutor, emailed to some PhD students for a feedback. After about six main editing, it was March. I thought it was too late for anything. Yet it is true that the options decrease in March than in November. For me, I decided to apply three more places where I truly desire with my very best effort. Within two weeks, I managed to apply Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hilton and Ritz Carlton. Hilton was the first to get back and within two days Four Seasons replied with not available but some positive feedbacks. I made into Hilton’s interview and I got the position wanted. Luckily, I also managed to get to the next stage of Ritz Carlton’s recruitment process. However, the University warned it was against the law/rule to do so. Even though both the firms are situated in UK with an Intern position, one was in F&B and the other was HR. Regardless, in everyway I could not be more than happy to sign the contract and prepare for a placement year within three months.
The journey gave me a message to always enjoy the situation with the best attitude. Anyone reading this post may or may not be in a same major or even in a similar situation. No matter what it is, I wish you could all enjoy the journey and make the most out of it.
-Won Ji Chung