The following blog post was submitted by 3rd year BSc Marketing student, Anna Bradford.
Let’s start off by saying that as an individual, I’m incredibly stubborn and fall into an incredibly dramatic slump when things don’t go the way I want. Take for instance when I didn’t get into the university of my choice after getting my A-Level results.. I think my family can vouch for me when I say I cried day and night and refused to come out of my room for about a week. But as they say, thing’s fall apart so new things can be put together, right?
It was around September of my 2nd year when I started to think about my placement year. I literally had no idea where I was going, what I was doing but I followed my friends behaviours to research online for internships. Many of my friends were going for the big placement schemes to start with but I decided at the beginning that I didn’t want to get stuck in a dead end job that I didn’t have a passion for. So then you start to look at your passions. My passions involved my blog, make-up, cosmetics, luxury goods. I could write for days on end about my new foundation or cleansing water which is something I felt extremely comfortable talking about.
My search started on Google. I remember being in my university room, staring at a blank google page and searching all the keywords under the sun. “Make-up internships”, “cosmetics internships”, “marketing schemes” – you’ll start to realise that when you start to look into these industries, such as fashion and beauty, you’re very much expected to be paid nothing, or if anything, a pittance, for a few weeks of experience in their offices.
My dream was to live and work in London so it took me quite a while to get to grips with the fact that I was going to have to live at home and commute, to work at many of the luxury fashion houses or niche cosmetics companies. December soon dawned on me and I suddenly realised that I was the last one in my group of friends without an internship. I started to be invited to seminars & lectures without my friends to discuss things like my CV and the ways I was approaching companies.
In January, I started to get a few emails back from smaller, but well known, companies in the industries I wanted for an interview. I’d get suited up and make my way to London to sit in their office and be asked questions. They all went really well… it was just the timing that was the issue. Many of the interviewers wanted somebody to start immediately rather than July and so that’s where my downfall was.
After a couple of interviews, I ended up having a meeting with my placement advisors who had started to get worried about my job hunting. “Anna, you need to start looking outside of London and you need to look at other industries, now.” Stubborn Anna came out and promised I would find somewhere in the industry that I wanted and in the city I truly love. The day after, I got an interview with Nike. This was cool, I thought. I could totally see myself there! I am a complete devotee of Nike and I sure do love their marketing. When I got to their offices, we all sat around a round table and we got asked questions for a group activity. It soon dawned on me that I had no knowledge of the sports industry and ended up explaining that Mo Farah was my sports inspiration because I couldn’t believe how many laps he did in the Olympics whilst I was eating a burger. (What?) The next day, I received a phone call to say I didn’t get the job. I was devastated, not just because I didn’t get the job but because I felt like I had let myself and my placement office down. I was pumped ready for this assessment centre and I didn’t get it!
In March, I applied for L’Oreal, the #1 cosmetics company in the world, and got to the mathematical online test. There I was, in the middle of my living room at university with three calculators (you never know when one will die on you), five pens (again, untrustworthy these pens) and a new notepad (I thought about another one, but there was plenty of paper). I went through it, one by one, and the time ran out before I had had the chance to finish. I was devastated. This was my chance to get into the industry that I wanted and yet I’d just flunked this test… oh god, did I have to start re-evaluating my life?
Somehow, the great Gods had heard me crying and miraculously I received an email for a phone interview whilst on a week away by myself looking after my brother’s flat in London. I was totally shocked – there I was waking up after a chilled out evening beforehand to an email that said I had a phone interview in a couple of hours. My head hit the wall – this must have been some kind of mistake? I phoned my mum – “Mum, how can this be possible? Do you think they got my name wrong? Shall I just go along with it? Worst case scenario change my name?” So I went along with it and thank goodness they had. I passed my telephone interview and immediately was invited to an assessment centre two days later, with a brief for a presentation being sent to me the day before. I was so not ready – I literally came into L’Oreal thinking I couldn’t do it and this was so above anything I had ever done. Everyone around me sounded like they had done this all before and there was little old me who had run around Oxford Street for four hours the day before trying to find an appropriate outfit for the day (luckily, found something after crying in the middle of Oasis after 3 hours).
The day ended and I felt on edge for the next couple of days. This was my dream position, dream industry and would set me up for my whole entire future in the beauty industry. I NEEDED this job. Plus, I knew if I didn’t get it I would have been forced to apply to what I would call “boring” schemes or jobs that just weren’t me at all.
You can imagine my excitement – I actually shed tears – when I got a phone call the day after the assessment day to say I had got the placement and would start in a few months. I was crying my eyes out.. smiling like I was on some kind of crazy-person drug. I had done it. I had proved myself and got the job I dreamt about. Stuff all the other people who didn’t have faith in me – I had done it!! Nothing is impossible!
So a few tips from my experience of applying:
- Start with your passions. What makes you excited? Many of my interviews went well because I could talk for England about the latest launches/products/marketing campaigns I had seen. People can see in your eyes when you’re interested in something so try to keep that fire in your eyes
- Sometimes you have to know when to explore other options, I got the job I wanted eventually, but I do understand how frustrating this can be when you’re nearing your deadline and need to find somewhere
- Think about whether you want to live and work in London, or if you would prefer to be at home with family. A couple of interns here moved into a house with new interns but had to move back home because they found London too much
- STAND OUT! I can’t stress this enough. Make your CV different. I have colour on my CV.. so much of it. I like to be different. I think this is so important, and a reason why I got many of my opportunities, especially as I was from a marketing background.
When you land the job:
- “Stay hungry, stay foolish” Steve Jobs, I couldn’t have put it better myself. Don’t be that guy who sits and pretends to know everything. If you don’t understand what’s going on, speak up. Be heard. Make sure you understand your brief so you get it done the first time and not have to repeat. Always be hungry to learn more, I’ve been invited to some fantastic and worthwhile meetings because I’ve shown interest and wanted to learn more
- This isn’t uni anymore, get to work early and leave when you’re not needed anymore for the day. Always try to help in every way you can.
- Network! Building a network is so important as this could be your path to future opportunities
L’Oreal’s mantra is “Nothing is impossible” and I truly believe it is if you try your hardest at it. Push boundaries and work through doors. You’ll eventually find your path and everything you do has a learning opportunity. Have fun learning. We’ll soon be out in the big wide world expected to give more back as employees… make the most of it!