This post was written by BSc Marketing student Jake, on placement as a Global Assistant Brand Manager at Unilever.
The placement process can often feel like an endless loop of rejection, with companies often not taking the time to reply to your application. My own search for a placement followed a similar sequential pattern – by February I had applied to approximately 25 companies, had 3 assessment days, but was still at the same place as I started. Now, I know what you’re thinking, you’ve heard the same reverberation of stories from the placement team time and time again, uttering how it’s a process of learning and trying again. In my experience, and from the insights of my peers, it’s a game of churn. The more applications that you send out, the higher the chance of success. I secured my placement in March at Unilever (one of the biggest FMCG companies in the world and highest ranked FMCG for under/grads), but this wasn’t without this notion of perseverance, and a constant renewal of application energy. Here are my frank reasons to continue your search for that long-lusted placement:
1. The Business School Degree Industry Is Saturated
Unfortunately, this is something that you probably don’t want to hear. On a national level, there are now more students studying a business-related degree than ever. Without demoralizing and critiquing our prestigious university and illustrious range of courses too much, there are a vast handful of other universal universities that produce the same degree output. When entering the grad labour market, how are you going to stand out from Tom, Dick and Harry who are studying business at another Russell Group uni? A placement is an excellent opportunity to leverage this competitive advantage – since in today’s vuka world it’s all about experience.
2. Do You Want To Fast-Track Through Your Hierarchical Career?
I’m sure one of the preliminary reasons why you chose to partake in a placement degree was for the CV exposure – money is just an extended benefit to the role. Once again this is something that the placement team will regularly throw down your throats, but it can’t be more of a true statement. Your chances of rising through the job ladder will be more of a smooth and stress-free process, since you will have one more year of conversant experience. If you join fresh out of university with just a degree, you are in the same position as the majority of the country – so why should you be sooner promoted?
3. Excel In Your Final Year!
This is probably the most incredibly underrated statement, often disregarded by everyone in the process. Students that take a placement year achieve on average a grade 6% higher than those that do not – that’s nearly a full grade! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but that could be the difference between a 2:1 and a 1:1. I can safely say that from working at Unilever, that I have probably learnt more in the space of 6 months on the job, than I have the entire of second year. Lecturers often state that students who come back from a placement year are often more engaging, knowledgeable and hungry for success, so this is the perfect opportunity to gain a more wholesome, well-rounded work/education-based experience.
My hope after these 3 reasons, is for you as business school students to understand the blunt reasons for persevering to get a placement. If there is one point to take out of this article, it is that the student market it saturated – how are you going to stand out?