My top tips for finding a placement

Hi! My name is Ivy, and I’m a Media and Communication student currently on a placement at the University of Surrey Students’ Union. For my first article, I will tell you more about the process of finding a placement.

Your placement experience is not just about your time on placement, it’s also about the time you spend looking for a placement. Finding a placement can be overwhelming, but if you do it correctly, there’s no doubt that you will be successful. Keep on reading to find out more about what I did to secure my placement, and feel free to use these tips for your placement-searching.

Start as soon as possible

Naturally, I was nervous at the start. I wanted to make sure that my CV was perfect and that my cover letter was the most unique cover letter ever. But I knew that the more I waited, the more time I would waste. And when you’re looking for a job in a competitive field, time is key. So, one day, I just started.

And even though my CV and cover letter weren’t the two most amazing documents, it was better than nothing. And what’s more important, the fact that I started during the first semester meant that I had time to improve. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what this whole placement experience is about – improvement.

Stay organised

Something that I’m extremely grateful that I did while searching for a placement was staying organised. I created a board on Notion where I’d track my progress for each placement application. As you can see on the picture above, the board was separated into 5 columns: company name, position, status of application, more information about the job and skills needed for the role. The status column was very useful as it helped me keep track of each application:

The Job information column was more detailed and would give me information about:

  • the job’s main responsibilities,
  • the location,
  • the pay range,
  • and most importantly, the deadline.

Ideally, when you’re applying, you want to send your application as soon as possible, especially when it’s for a competitive role, but if you can see that the deadline is months away, you can allow yourself to prioritise another application with a closer deadline. Do also be aware that competitive roles can sometimes close before the deadline!

Finally, my last column had a list of skills the company is looking for – this was useful as I could tailor my CV and cover letter to highlight these exact skills, which would make me a better candidate in the employer’s eyes.

Obviously, what I’m telling you right now is not gospel – feel free to track your placement applications another way. If Notion isn’t for you, you can create an Excel sheet, a Word Document with bullet points, or keep a track of everything in a notebook! It doesn’t matter how you decide to keep track, as long as you do. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is receive an interview invitation for a position you don’t even remember you applied to!

Take care of yourself

Something that I wish somebody told me when I was doing my placement search, is to take care of yourself throughout the process. Writing a CV, sending applications to different companies, preparing for interviews and assessment centres – all of this takes a significant amount of time. And you will probably know that time is limited when you are a student with course deadlines, a part-time job and a social life.

Don’t forget to take breaks every now and again, and to allow yourself to have some time off. Sleep when you’re tired, stay hydrated and when you feel like you should stop and call it a day – do it. Listen to your body’s needs, because the last thing you want to do is burn yourself out. At the end of the day, life is not about being productive all the time – and that’s okay.

That’s it from me for now! I wish you all best of luck with finding a placement – and remember, the more placements you apply to, the better you get at it! Keep going and believe in yourself because you got this. You’ll get there eventually, and all the effort will be worth it.