Archive | September, 2014

What’s on the cards for the Management School in 2014/15?

Just in case you hadn’t realised, it’s Freshers Week! For many of us this is a time of much  anticipation and excitement. A new academic year often brings about work-related resolutions for me such as ‘to work smarter not harder’ and ‘to always take a lunch break’! The Placements Office has come along way since it was created in the Spring, but it is great to get started on a new academic year and officially launch our team to all staff and students in the faculty.

2014/15 is going to be particularly exciting for the Management School. There are lots of changes ahead; new staff, new facilities, new programmes and new students. The Placements Office builds on the successes of the Management School and the Faculty of Business and Law whilst bringing  together lots of different colleagues and projects from across the University. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Management School  Employability Co-ordinators, The Education Development Office, Careers Destinations, the Alumni team and the wonderfully enthusiastic and determined  Placements staff from across the university.

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to visit some of our Marketing students on placement at IBM Southbank. They have already completed 3 months of their placement and I was amazed at their personal and professional development to date. It was wonderful to hear how they had already made such an impact on their departments. We discussed their progress and set targets for the coming months. It is often easy to make over ambitious goals at the start of something new and then reality kicks in… the phone rings when you were trying  to get out for lunch or your project management software decides it doesn’t like your new password…. so resolutions have to be revised. We shouldn’t feel this is a failure; rather we should be proud of our enthusiasm and desire to change things for the better.

IBM Visit

Meeting the Schools and Universities Attraction Manager at IBM

This year I hope The Placements Office  can make a real difference to the Management School by:

–          Improving communication to staff and students about employability and enterprise initiatives and events

–          Preparing students for their placement year through the Professional Skills Module

–          Providing employers with one point of contact for the Management School

Looking forward to working with you over the coming year!



What’s in store for WSA this year

It has been an exciting few months since the creation of the Faculty of Business and Law Placements Office. Vicki, Rob and I have successfully sent off our first group of placement students, who, we are proud to report, have all settled into their jobs well and are having a great time. After a summer of building the required processes and structures, and interacting with various employers, now is a good time to have a look at the new academic year that is upon us and talk a bit about what we are looking to achieve.

I’m excited to work with Winchester School of Art, mapping current employer engagement activities and learning about all the exciting collaborations that are taking place between the students and the industry. Whilst the courses offered at the School do not yet have any placements as an integral part of the course structure, students are highly motivated to gain industry experience throughout their studies. The teaching at WSA is heavily intertwined with industry expertise; our academics have a wealth of connections and experience, which benefit our students.

I would like to see an increase in the number of internship opportunities available for WSA students – a lot is already being done with regard to this, and in the coming months I will continue this work. In addition, I am working with the programme leaders for Fine Art, Fashion and Textile Design, Fashion Marketing/Management, Graphic Arts and Games Design to identify new opportunities of engaging with the industry.

Until now, the academics have facilitated a lot of the work-based learning opportunities themselves. Whilst valuable to students, these individual arrangements mean that there has not been a connected, cohesive approach to offering internships to students. This year, my aim is to bring all the work-based learning opportunities together by recording and advertising them on our Placements Jobs Board, which will be available to students soon. Academics have the support of the Placements Office in facilitating these opportunities and we will guide students in their selection and application process for the various opportunities.

I look forward to working closely with the University’s Career Destinations team, WSA’s Employability Coordinator and all the academics to achieve even better work opportunities for the students. And, most of all, I am excited about working with the students, finding out what their requirements and thoughts on employability are, and see them grow and develop through liaison with the industry.

Best regards,


The Wonders of Placement Applications

The following blog post was submitted by 3rd year BSc Marketing student, Caroline Wardle.


I’m Caroline, 3rd year Marketing student at Southampton Uni and currently spending my placement year in London at IBM within their External Relations Press team.

Hopefully this post will give you some insight into my journey from being completely overwhelmed to relatively independent and standing on my own two feet in the professional world.

My plan for applying for placements began as an über-keen fresher Googling companies and their schemes, getting an understanding of their individual processes and what was required, before panicking thinking I would never have anything to fill out an application form with… and then pushing it to the back of my mind until the end of the first year when it was really needed and I could panic all over again.

Despite feeling overwhelmed, possibly one of the most useful things I did at this point was writing down the opening times of applications for companies I thought I might be interested in. This way, when the end of the year came, along with the reality of seemingly-endless applications, I was more prepared knowing I could spread them out over the following months rather than applying all at once come October.

Initially for me I wanted to hone my focus on global companies, as I believed this would give me the most wide-spread experience across the organisation, and my interests were always in IBM and Unilever. I always applied to the ‘marketing’ schemes for every company, rather than more general ‘business’ schemes, as I wanted the more specific experience of marketing.

IBM and Unilever opened in July, and were undoubtedly the two lengthiest forms of all the companies I applied to – advantageous as the rest could be largely copy/pasted! I received an interview for a telephone interview for Unilever within a few days of applying, and an invitation to complete the ‘IPAT’ test for IBM (their numeracy/logic online test) – it’s the one company I came across which has a completely different/more difficult format of online test.

Unfortunately I failed the Unilever interview, but as my first proper interview I’ve ever had it was a great experience of the formal process within a company and definitely helped with subsequent ones. More successfully, I passed the IPAT test with IBM and in August was offered an IBM assessment centre appointment for October. That was me done until other places opened in September; I applied to John Lewis, Boots, Telefonica, VW, LVMH and GSK over the next couple of months.

Each company has a slightly different application process to the other, some require cover letters/CVs whereas others want company-specific application forms, and I completed the online tests for all companies – lots of companies take a couple of months to contact you afterwards regarding further processes, so don’t get worried if it takes a while to hear back!

My assessment centre appointment came in early October, which was a day consisting of 2 group exercises, another IPAT test, an interview, a pre-prepared presentation and a lot of nervous waiting. Despite this, it was actually a really enjoyable day and was much more relaxed than I imagined it would be. The only guidance I can really give is to prepare both your interview answers and knowledge of the company as thoroughly as possible.

Arguably rather stupidly, I didn’t apply to any more companies, despite still waiting to hear back from everywhere on my progress, putting all my eggs in one basket in the hope that IBM would contact me with a job offer following a subsequent interview with my manager after the assessment centre. Fortunately this paid off and I was offered my placement at the beginning of November!

Enjoying London

Enjoying post-work London with a view of the famous sights.

Some of the key things I learnt throughout this process, which will undoubtedly help with graduate applications, are that checking when applications open and applying early definitely pay off – both for stress levels and job offer opportunities! I learnt that I should have continued applying for everything going – I definitely would have shot myself in the foot had I not been successful with IBM! Another thing I learnt is to exercise patience – there is always something available out there, the processes are just time-consuming… and to try not to compare myself to where my friends are in their progress as that only makes you think you’re failing.

It’s still early days 2 months in, but so far the placement and living in London are exactly how I hoped they’d be and it was definitely worth all the hard work to get here.


Working in an in-house legal team

The following blog post was submitted by 4th year LLB European Legal Studies student, Letizia Corsi.

Hello Everyone,

I am Letizia and I am a final year Law student at the University of Southampton. I am currently working with the in-house legal department of an international engineering consultancy firm called Ramboll.

The work placement will last for 2 months, from mid-July to mid-September and it is primarily based in Southampton, with some occasional trips to the London office. The opportunity was first advertised by the Placements Office.

I decided to apply to this particular position as I was attracted by the possibility of getting legal work experience “with a twist” (that is to say the engineering specialty). The application process was very speedy and I have been offered the position within 10 days from it being advertised. I was invited to a Skype interview as I was not in the country at the time.

My tasks include quite a large amount of administration work, such as managing the legal database, photocopying, and booking meeting rooms. Clearly this is not the most interesting part of the job but it is very useful to understand how things work and to develop valuable skills which will be relevant for a career in law. For example, answering the phone and organising a social team event may seem like trivial tasks, but they may still require a great deal of resilience, organisation and common sense.

The extent of what you will learn from such an internship is entirely up to you. It is up to you to ask questions, and if you are asked to photocopy a 40-page contract, it is entirely up to you whether you decide to read it!

I have soon found out that tasks of responsibility will not be assigned to me unless I actively ask and look for them. This may require staying in the office a little bit longer in order to be able to take on more, and more challenging, work. However, it is definitely worth it!

Within a week I have been involved in tasks of legal research, simple legal reviews and I was even allowed to send my own findings directly to the clients (after they have been checked by a member of the team of course!).

Letizia LLB Student

Ready for work!

The people I work with are incredibly nice and encouraging, they are always professional but ready to help and answer patiently all my numerous questions. I really feel like part of a great team already! The background of the people in the legal team is varied. Some of the legal advisors are qualified solicitors, some are chartered engineers and some are senior consultants with a great deal of experience behind them. I am constantly impressed by how knowledgeable each and every one of them is in his or her field.

I believe I have been very lucky as Ramboll is a fantastic company to work for. There is a very strong feeling of belonging to the same entity, as Ramboll encourages friendship and positive relationships among employees through numerous events. Everyone is approachable and helpful and I often have a chat with directors and senior consultants.

This experience has been incredibly positive and I would encourage every student to try getting some relevant work experience during the summer. I admit that it may be tiring not to have holidays at all but it is definitely worth it in the long term. If you are as lucky as I was, you will not even notice!

It is important that you do not get discouraged if you are unsuccessful at the beginning: I have applied for months before finding the right internship.

The first work experience is the harder to get, the key is not to be discouraged and to try to improve your CV as much as you can. This is why volunteering and involvement in clubs and societies at university is so precious. You will have the occasion to learn a lot and prove yourself without having to demonstrate your skills at an interview!

Finally, do not forget that we have a fantastic Placements Office and Career Destinations service which are always happy to help. They gave me some valuable advice on how to improve my CV and applications, so do not hesitate to contact them and keep an eye on the opportunities advertised!


My summer internship with Whitchurch Silk Mill

The following blog post was submitted by 2nd year BA Fashion and Textile Design student, Sywia Orynek.

I first offered to volunteer at Whitchurch Silk Mill during my first year of studies, but then decided to embark on their 6-week summer internship instead. I was especially interested in the opportunity to come up with and produce my own project during the internship, as my future goal is to start my own business, designing textiles.

The internship has benefited me a lot: I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of different kinds of looms, including the old Victorian ones that the Mill uses; read more about weaving and textile design from the books that are available for staff at the Mill; and most importantly, my time at the Mill has further solidified my career aspirations.

Sylwia on placement

Me sat at the loom.

Having spent time with and assisting a freelance textile designer during my placement, I have seen first-hand what is involved in running your own textile business. I now know that, next year, I want to do another internship, this time in a larger textile company, where I can learn more about the commercial aspects of textile design.

I’m excited to hear that the Faculty of Business and Law now has its dedicated Placement Office, who are there to help students with finding high-quality placement and internship opportunities.