Tag Archives | university of southampton

Top 10 Tips for Applications

Today we have a guest post from Joe, one of our placement students who is soon to start his placement year working at Morgan Stanley. Whether you are applying for a placement, internship or graduate job, his tried and tested tips should help you during the application process!

  1. Start looking early:

Many schemes open up to applications at the end of summer and recruit on a rolling basis. Spend a few days of your summer noting opening dates and deadlines for applications.

  1. Prepare key documents before the application cycle:

Save yourself time down the line when university work builds up by having already put together your CV and a general cover letter structure over summer. Also, make both a 1-page and 2-page CV, as various companies may state a preference.

  1. Consider the main factors in deciding which jobs to apply for:download1

i. What role do you want to be in? ii. Do you want to work for a large or small company? (both have advantages and disadvantages) iii. Do you want work in another city? (consider relocation costs) iv. Is it a paid position? (salaries can vary greatly)

  1. Research the company and the role you are applying to:

Generic applications get nowhere. Read up on the business news relevant to the firm and about the firm. Go on the firm’s website and look at the recent developments and core values. Read up on what the role will actually entail. Look at intern reviews on websites such as “Rate My Placement”.

  1. Tailor each application to each specific role and company:

All that research you’ve just done should be embedded in your cover letter so you come across as genuinely interested in the position you are applying for.

  1. Apply early:

Once all this is done, get in those applications! This is for two reasons. First, you are more likely to be successful if you get your application in early. Second, you don’t want to have to be filling in applications when it comes to exam season.

  1. Use the resources available to you:

Southampton Business School has a really strong placement team and website – so use them! Get them to go over your applications, do mock interviews with you, and ask for advice.

  1. Interviews – competency questions:

Plan in advance, but don’t try and create an individual answer for every possible competency question you can think of. You will never remember all of them. Instead, know really well about five things you have done in the last 2-3 years that display your skill set. Then when you get asked, “tell me about a time you when displayed skill X”, select your most relevant example and apply the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method to it when giving your answer.

  1. Assessment centres

Arrive early so you are not stressed, and then just be yourself. If feel like you need to act differently, then maybe the company isn’t the right fit for you anyway and you wouldn’t enjoy yourself there. Also, there’s a good chance they’ll call you out during interview if they’re not too sure about the way in which you are presenting yourself.

  1. If all else fails…it’s a numbers game:

There will be many good candidates out there with similar qualities to you, so it all may come down to fine margins. Play the odds and do lots of (quality) applications and something will eventually fall into place!

Wishing the best of luck to Joe next year! 

Share your own application tips with the hashtag #FindYourPlace

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Introducing #FindYourPlace! Over the past few months we have loved hearing from different people about their placement experiences, tips and advice. Now we want to hear from YOU!

Over the next few months we want to build a community, sharing tried and tested tips, advice and experiences which will hopefully help you #FindYourPlace. Whether you are looking for a graduate job, internship or placement year, we want to hear from you – get involved on our twitter and facebook page and keep up to date on key information which will make you a first choice for employers!

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4 Extra-Curricular Activities that Employers Love

Are you stuck for extra-curricular activities to add to your CV? Perhaps you don’t know which of your experiences is worthy of mentioning, or maybe you’ve not yet got round to taking part in anything outside of your degree. In this article, we’ll look at four activities outside of your course that employers love, providing you with inspiration for writing your CV, or new ideas for activities to apply for in September.

1. Doing charity work

Taking on charity work is a great way to show your passion for a cause close to you, as well as providing an opportunity to learn new skills relevant to your future career. Charity work doesn’t always involve fundraising or providing frontline services, there are often opportunities to take on a volunteering position with the management of a local charity, teaching you valuable business skills such as a good email manner, project management skills or event planning.

A volunteering role such as this is a great way to fill any gaps in your experience, for example if you were unsuccessful in applying for a summer internship. You may have to go without pay, but don’t forget that even a day or an afternoon a week during term time can be enough for you to learn many of the useful transferrable skills mentioned above.

2. Actively learning new skills

A highly sought-after trait of new hires is being a self-starter when it comes to learning new skills. If you regularly spend time learning new skills outside of your degree course, you’re able to demonstrate that you’re willing and able to fill any gaps in your knowledge, which can really help to reassure your interviewer if you don’t yet have all the skills necessary for the job you’re interviewing for.

SKILLSThere are two types of skills you may wish to teach yourself. Firstly, extra-curricular skills can demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded person, for example learning first aid. Learning this life skill shows you have a willingness to become a resource to your community, and is also relevant to the business world, since organisations need a number of trained first aiders in the building as part of their first aid obligation. If you have a first aid certificate already, check it’s in date, as due to a rule change, an out of date certificate means you’re no longer a first aider.

Second, is learning a skill relevant to your industry that you may not have gained through your course. For example, if you’re looking to get into digital marketing, you need to learn industry-specific skills which are not on offer on many courses. Show you’re worth hiring by learning these skills before you get on the job training, which can be done for free with online courses by Google and other providers.

3. Show off your writing skills

Even if you’re not looking to enter a career in journalism or copywriting, the fact is that many roles require strong writing skills, for example for communicating ideas in presentations, writing reports, or creating specifications for products or campaigns.

One of the best ways to showbusiness-writing off your written communication skills is to write for the Wessex Scene, the Tab, or other publications such as a blog on a topic you’re passionate about. Bringing a portfolio of articles authored by you can really help set you apart from other candidates who may simply rely on their CV to demonstrate their writing skills.

To gain even more credit with the interviewer, consider writing on a topic relevant to the industry you’re looking to enter, demonstrating not just your writing skills, but also your passion for the career you’re aiming to begin.

4. Taking part in relevant societies and student groups

Employers love to see candidates who have actively tried to expand their knowledge about the industry they’re looking to enter, and a great way to show this is by joining a club or society relevant to your career plans. For example, if you’re looking to become a web developer, then why not join the Electronics and Computer Science Society? Or if you’re looking to become an engineer, then taking part in the Engineering Society can help show your passion. With over 300 societies to choose from, it’s well worth taking a look for one relevant to the career you’re looking to enter.

Your level of involvement in these groups is also of significance in your interview. It’s always best to join just one or two societies and take on a leading role, such as becoming a member of the committee, than joining 5 or 6 and not attending regularly. A deeper involvement in a club means you’ll learn more transferrable skills such as financial skills or time management, which you can put on your CV and discuss in your interview.

About the author

Seb Atkinson graduated in 2011 and is a first aider writing for the Safety First Aid blog, which provides helpful advice to first aiders and first aid volunteers.

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Featured Internship – Disney

Laura is one of our students who is currently half-way through her placement year with Disney. She gives us a little insight into her tasks and the magic behind them all…

Once upon a time in a land known as Hammersmith, there was a magical place called The Walt Disney Company where they employed lucky interns from faraway places all around the kingdom….
I have always been a big kid at heart with a passion for classic fairy-tales, adventure and imagination so when I was told I had an internship with Walt Disney I couldn’t have been happier! I have now been working at Disney in the Studios EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) Marketing team in Hammersmith for almost 10 months. As the EMEA Studios Marketing team we work across all Disney franchise titles which include; Disney Animation, Disney Live Action, Disney Toon, Pixar, Marvel and Lucas Film across a variety of countries. We have a wealth of new films releasing and I have been lucky enough to work on Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6, Cinderella Live Action (released March 27th), Avengers: Age of Ultron (April 24th) amongst many others that will be releasing in the next few years including Star Wars: Episode VII, Inside Out, Ant-Man, The Jungle Book Live Action and Finding Dory – all very exciting!!


Disney – Minnie Mouse

My role works predominantly with the Studio Marketing Leads on European campaigns, projects and global conferences across all titles. I work closely with the Owned Channels (Disney Channel, Disney.co.uk, Disney Mailer, etc) creating TV spots for Disney Channel, using Disney Channel cast members for PR opportunities, creating competitions on the social media pages, etc. I also work with the promotions team here at Disney to ensure we have good collaborations with partners on an EMEA and UK level (including Swarovski, Sky, Max Factor and many more). Twice a week I am involved with market research where we track each of our titles from 8 weeks before their release in terms of awareness and interest amongst various audiences. Amongst my main duties I often get involved in Public Relations, Digital Marketing and Media, and even have been lucky enough to work with writers and producers on the scripts before the films are even made.

As the EMEA Marketing intern I often speak to various markets mainly France, Italy, Germany, the UK and Spain (where my Spanish skills are put to the test)! I also PA occasionally for the VP’s of Walt Disney Studios – which can be challenging alongside my role but gives me great exposure to the heads and all aspects of the company.



Across the whole company in the Hammersmith headquarters there are over 130 interns so there are always many social events as well as Studio Team and charity events to attend and help with. We are also lucky enough to have competitor films play in the Disney cinema every Tuesday – I am definitely going to resent paying for the cinema next year!

So far there have been lots of exciting opportunities for me to get stuck into. Some of my greatest achievements so far have been from developing digital social campaigns for Big Hero 6 with the hashtag #IFoundBaymax, producing detailed market tracking reports, to working alongside Swarovski to create a stunning Cinderella touring exhibition.


Disney – Big Hero 6

Cinderella has by far been my most exciting title to be involved in to date. Already a global success and the number one movie worldwide, it is set to release in the UK this week on Friday 27th March! The movie elevates the classic story in a spectacular live action world, re-launching Cinderella as strong, courageous, aspirational and relevant. It is a fresh, exciting and must-see movie event – I love it!


Cinderella’s shoe

For the last few months we have been planning the beautiful Cinderella Touring Exhibition which is now live in Leicester Square and is a grand immersive experience which takes you behind the scenes of the brilliant film making, production and stunning costume design. We worked with the amazing Swarovski on this exhibition who provided 1.7 million crystals for the costumes to add the Cinderella sparkle to the film! More information can be found here and you can also order your free tickets to go and see it yourself! http://movies.disney.co.uk/cinderella/exhibition
The last few weeks have been crazy busy with the Cinderella release and I have been privileged enough to attend the press conference with the cast and of course the spectacular premiere where I was meters away from the charming Prince himself, Richard Madden (who many of you would also recognize from Game of Thrones) and Cinderella, the beautiful Lily James.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Disney so far and not just because of the amazing exposure I have to the entertainment industry but because of the great opportunities I’ve had in a marketing role. My team have been brilliant at getting me involved; I’ve had good insight into diverse areas of the business working with various teams and partners and I have also made some excellent contacts within Disney and agencies for the future. I will miss the daily routine but hopefully it will help me get to the library early for a productive days work when I return to uni! I have gained valuable skills and now understand the importance of working hard, being organised and attentive to detail.


Magical Horse Carriage

I have four months left in the Disney castle and am very much looking forward to the next few projects I have coming my way! Especially those involving Avengers: Age of Ultron & Inside Out.

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Not just a ‘day job’…

Caroline is one of our students who is currently half-way through her placement with IBM. She gives us a little insight into what else she gets up to alongside her daily tasks…


At the beginning of my placement, I had fairly limited knowledge of the IBM (aside from knowing their 2013 revenue figure, having read the annual report relentlessly for interviews – needless to say that wasn’t the first thing they asked me about), so with very little idea as to what corporate life would be like, I tried to ignore the prospect of having a dull 9-5 office job.

7 months later and i’ve discovered that these preconceptions are very inaccurate, and no two days are ever the same. Although I love what I do as part of the PR team at IBM, and the work is constantly varying which always gives something new to try and learn, the variety of working life comes primarily from the 100+ interns working with me in the London Southbank office alone (300+ nationally). I count myself incredibly lucky to have this network of interns available in the office for entertainment when a break from ‘real work’ is needed, and consider it one of the best aspects of my placement year.

We were recently all together for a major IBM event, the Business & Developer Connect which was held at Twickenham Stadium last November. As interns, despite not being given the most glamorous jobs, the opportunity to spend time and work together (in this case 18 of us for 2 days) doing something outside our usual day jobs is well worth the effort involved in getting from opposite ends of London by 6.30m – no mean feat. The perks were definitely meeting Tim Henman & Will Greenwood!

Caroline post


Other good opportunities to make the most of placement year have been to get involved with “GiveBack”, something which IBM (and I would assume the majority of large companies) actively encourage. “GiveBack” is any charitable act to benefit anyone – which, as you can imagine, leaves a fairly substantial list of possibilities! For example, activities i’ve taken part in since joining have been:

  • Working on the University of Southampton careers fair stall
  • Running an IBM Graduate Assessment Centre
  • Teaching science experiments and cooking lessons to children at an autistic school (definitely the best day off work!)
  • Becoming a STEM Ambassador – helping to mentor girls to encourage careers in science, tech, engineering and maths (a slightly ironic role for me as, as a marketer, I was never a huge fan of the sciences).

Despite being a slightly random collection of extra-curricular activities, taking all the opportunities available has given me so much more variety and interest other than my normal day-to-day job, which is exactly what placement years should be about!

Your FBL Placements Team x