Author Archive | Elizabeth Barton

My Placement So Far: William Grant and Sons – Part 2

This post was written by third year BSc Business Analytics student Emma, Insights Executive at William Grant & Sons UK

Since I first checked in, I am so much more comfortable and confident in my position and with the team at WGS, I have been able to work from home some days which is helpful considering I travel 70 miles in rush hour traffic each day! I have become a lot better at using spreadsheets and database software from a variety of jobs and brands to work with over the festive period. I had also been “Snowballing” which is where the whole office goes out into supermarkets and merchandise our products, securing extra shelf space and making it look neat as Christmas is our major period.

The early mornings have become easier and I still have a social life with my team, we have had lots of outings and fun events such a stay in a mansion-type house in the New Forest around Christmas time where we celebrated with a Christmas dinner and wreath making before enjoying some drinks and games in the evening. I have also visited Manchester for database training and got to experience an “on trade safari” which is essentially going to a few bars in central Manchester, getting to try lots of new cocktails and drinks as well as admiring establishments our products are sold in. All hotels and drinks are expensed by the company which is another one of the perks working with WGS. Since my last post, I have stayed in a luxury hotel in Guildford for the annual company conference which was a two day event, giving small snippets of each of our brands and the plans for 2018. This event came complete with; you guessed it, more amazing drinks and a formal gala dinner which was actually a load of fun!

I have been up to the Richmond WGS office and have attended two Marketing Fundamentals courses which have given me useful insights and ideas for my dissertation. These courses have supported the concepts learned in first and second year and it’s good to get a refresher of some of the business ideas since being out of university.

I’d also been incredibly lucky since last checking in with the blog, I got a last minute two week cruise around the Caribbean late November and was able to use holiday to allow me such an amazing experience! WGS have been very accommodating; I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I went straight into my third year.

Tomorrow I’m off to Dufftown in Scotland (flight and hotels included, wooo!) where our distilleries are located. I’m presenting new insights from the updated data in front of the team. This is a very big opportunity for me as I’ve been given full responsibility from the beginning for the analysis and data to create an updated story for Glenfiddich.

All in all, I’ve had an incredibly fun and social first 6 months with WGS, the job is a perfect suit to my Business Analytics degree. Working with real-life data isn’t at all boring as I know I have an impact on that data by working with WGS. I couldn’t have chosen a more fitting placement.

Will check back in with the final post and a summary in 5 months or so!

Thanks for reading,
Emma Goring


My Placement So Far: Westminster City Council

This post was written by third year BSc Business Management student Doan Hong Lien

I have completed almost half way of my placement year at Westminster City Council in London as I started at the beginning of September 2017 (4/9/2017). The placement so far has opened my eyes on how a local government and a large organisation operates and taught me to adapt to changing daily work tasks.

I work as the Commercial Graduate for the Procurement Development team, Procurement Services.  My role is mainly to help with the contract management work stream and spend analysis of contracts awarded by both Westminster City Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. I also communicate frequently with other colleagues and staff not only from Procurement Services but also from other teams and directorates to help ensure contract verification, compliance and visibility. Currently, I participate as the programme support in the Contract Management Programme, which aims to develop best practices for contract management in the council. This gives me a good chance to learn different aspects of contract management and project management.

Moreover, the experience in Westminster Procurement Services has improved my Excel skills and allowed me to apply my researching skills which were developed at the university to my work. As a Business Management student, I used to do a lot of researching for writing assignments and reports, and make several presentations. This helps me a lot when I am required to conduct some research on contract classification, for example, or to make some slides in preparation for some reports. Apart from my main tasks regarding supporting the above programme, I also actively ask to help other colleagues in the team with their work and often deal with their ad-hoc requests. This enables me to understand more about their work and build a good work relationship with them. Since I began my placement in London, which has a totally different living environment, I have also learned to keep a strict routine and maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure both good physical and mental health to complete the work effectively.

Working for Westminster Procurement Services, not only do I focus on broadening my knowledge and skills but I also take advantage of this great opportunity to make friends with my colleagues and join different activities with them. I have joined the ‘Procurement Plodder club’ and run around Green Park for roughly 30 minutes every Tuesday at lunch time with my team. It is a good chance to enjoy fresh air and scenic views with the team. My colleagues are very kind and supportive and never mind responding to any kind of my questions and concerns. They even prepared a birthday card with nice wishes and cakes to celebrate my 21st birthday, which was so sweet and memorable.

I still have 7 months left and feel glad with what the experience brings and excited about what I would learn for the rest of my placement year. I do wish all students who are trying hard to secure their placement would keep making efforts and achieve the success they deserve!



Placement Conference 2017

On Friday 1st December we hosted our annual placement conference. The conference was a fantastic opportunity to bring together current and future placement students, employers and academics.

After an initial welcome talk from Professor Martin Broad (Head of Southampton Business School) Paul Bennett (Director for Enterprise for Southampton Business School) delivered a captivating talk on T-shaped leadership. The engaging content of the talk provided knowledge which both students and employers could take back to the workplace.

A placements fair was held throughout the day which enabled 1st and 2nd year placement students to meet and converse with current placement students and their line managers. The fair provided a forum in which students could share real life experience of the placement journey and gain an insight in to potential placement opportunities.

Throughout the day 1st and 2nd year students were invited to participate in speed interviews. Speed interviews comprised of a series of mini 4 minute interviews with employers. This element of the day was exceptionally well received at our 2016 conference and led to one student being offered a placement role. The success of speed interviews continued this year. Despite a number of students initially being hesitant we had incredibly positive feedback from the process. Students felt that the experience provided them with tips that they could truly utilise within future interview settings.

Not only did the students involved find the process beneficial but employer feedback was equally as positive. They  enjoyed the process and expressed an interest in particular students who they felt would fit well into future placement positions, so fingers crossed this might lead to some future placement offers! A number of our current placement students supported the speed interview process which allowed them the experience of being the interviewer rather than the interviewee. Having been through the placement application process recently themselves they were in the unique position to be able to offer advice accordingly.

Current placement students attended Programme Talks with their respective Programme leaders. This informal discussion included how the placement year fits with their degree course and how the first and second years prepare students for their placement year. Conversations regarding the relevance of modules to placements emphasised how the diversity of roles meant opinions on the relevance of courses varied greatly.

Programme Talks provided a forum for guidance to be offered regarding dissertations.  The sparked discussion as to when and how dissertation tutors are allocated.

Peer leaders who had previously completed a placement year facilitated talks concerning returning to university following a placement year. This component allowed discussion to This included discussion on completing dissertation and how to utilise the skills that have been acquired on placement when returning to university.

The day concluded with academics tutors joining us to meet with students returning from their placements over lunch. This meant that academics, employers and students were about to discuss their placement journey so far.

Overall the placement conference was a great success for all involved, which provided an opportunity for knowledge sharing and networking.

“The Business School Placement Office created a fantastic day for both placement and current students at the university. The day gave a good insight into the final year at Southampton and it was a pleasure to personally represent my firm back at campus.”

Stefan Georgiou, Consumer Healthcare Talent Team, Industrial Placement on Assignment at GSK

“It was really nice to see so many familiar faces at the placement conference, especially hearing about what anyone’s experiences at work have been so far. The conference provided a platform to network with other students before we go back to final year and many opportunities to explore the ideas of dissertation. I thought it was very helpful.”

Athena Liu, Planning and Analysis Intern, Norwegian Cruise Line.

“The day was certainly an interesting one. Although it felt like I was just back at University, I was able to see how I have progressed and developed since being on placement. It also made me realise how different the experience is compared to a standard academic year. I found the speed interviews rather intriguing as it gave me some insight into the interview process, but from the managers perspective. I felt I was able to give good advice to the undergraduates from being in their situation only last year.”

“I highly enjoyed seeing the other students on placement and hearing about their roles. I think we can all agree that we have learned whether the area we are in is for us or not, or for some, how running our own company is definitely the way forward.”

Amy Morgan, Account Executive Placement, British Safety council.

“The annual placements conference is a great opportunity for first and second year students to meet with current placement students, and learn from their experiences. Us in the Placements Office enjoy observing the professional growth that placements students have already gained; continuously our students on placements make us and the University proud by working hard in a conscientious manner. I especially enjoyed hearing about how students on placements have relished the responsibilities given to them, making each one a valuable team member within their placement organisations.”

Riikka Kempainen, Faculty Placement Advisor.

“What an eventful day! it was great to see placement students and employers engaging with first and second year students. Really good feedback from employers regarding speed interviews.”

Rochelle Clark, Faculty Placement Advisor

“It was fantastic to welcome so many of our placement students back on to campus so that they can share their experiences and insights from working with some of the regions leading employers”

Richard Cartwright Senior Teaching Fellow in Accountancy.


Dealing with Application Rejection

Nobody enjoys being rejected. When you feel like you have put substantial time and effort into an application or interview and you get declined feeling disappointed is inevitable. There are always going to be the lucky few who sail through life getting their dream job first time. But for most of us rejection will happen at some time and the placement application process is no exception. So if rejection is inevitable we should consider how it can be managed effectively.

Don’t just keep it to yourself

When you have been rejected and are feeling disappointed you are not necessarily going to be keen to share this with the world. Keeping it to yourself isn’t going to change the outcome. Get in touch with your Placement Advisor who can discuss how you can move forward and learn for future applications. Don’t forget Placement Advisors are here to help.

time for feedback

Getting feedback

You are perfectly entitled to ask for feedback after an unsuccessful application. There may be instances in which the employer is unable to provide detailed constructive feedback. Sometimes the sheer volume of applications may make this unrealistic. Employers might not be in a position to identify significant improvement. The difference between candidates may be marginal and you just might not be the first choice on the day. Remember you have nothing to lose by politely asking for feedback, it could be the difference between rejection or success next time.

As a placement student you are in a unique position where you have access to Placement Advisors. Remember they are here to help by reviewing your applications and practicing mock interviews. Your Placement Advisor will then be able to give you detailed feedback and tips to alter your application or improve before the real interview. This is a brilliant opportunity that you will not have access after graduation so make the most it.

Sharing an application or enduring a mock interview with your Placement Advisor might makes you feel nervous but surely it is better to make mistakes and learn from them rather than on the real application or in the actual interview? Nobody relishes accepting personal criticism but remember they are only trying to help you achieve your full potential.

Learning from our mistakes

If we are going to seek feedback after rejection then it is important that we reflect on it. There may be occasions when you really did try your best and there is nothing more you could have done. There may be times when the job just clearly was not right for you. But remember none of us are perfect. It is likely that there are ways in which you could improve your application or responses to interview questions to increase your future chances of success. Of course there is an element of subjectivity to application success. All employers are individuals and they will not always have identical opinions of what you should write or say. But remember there is no point getting feedback if you are not going to reflect on.


Don’t let it get you down

As discussed previously application rejection is something that most of us will face at some time and feeling disappointed is natural but try not to get too disheartened. Try and take something positive from the experience. Even if you aren’t successful then the process means you have more experience to draw upon for you next application or interview.

Remember being rejected but getting yourself back out there and not giving up shows you have resilience. Employers want someone who is resilient it is great quality to have as an employee.