Author Archive | Rob Jack

3 reasons why to persevere in your placement search

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?



Placement life at Oracle: The largest company you’ve never heard of

This post was written by Olly, on placement as part of his BSc Marketing  with Placement Year course

Firstly, the question you’re all thinking…Who is Oracle? And no, it is not the shopping centre in the heart of Reading!

If you happen to know who Oracle are and what they do then you can be assured you’re part of a particularly exclusive club. What if I was to tell you that they have an employment force of over 130,000 people worldwide, deal with over 430,000 customers in 175 different countries, are the 17th most valuable brand in the world and had revenue last year of $37.7 billion? If you still don’t know who they are then don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of them either prior to my application research back in October. In this blog and others after it I will share my journey of how a BSc Marketing student at the University of Southampton has the ability, knowledge and characteristics to be an integral part of a world leading global giant.

A bit about my job role so far: I work as part of a global business unit (GBU) called Oracle Hospitality and we deal with: Hotels, Casinos, Cruise ships, Restaurants, Bars, Sports stadiums and Arenas. In fact, you have probably interacted with Oracle software at least 7 times today, or you will do by the end of the day. I bet you didn’t know that, right? I’ve been at Oracle for nearly 2 months now and in that time I have already gone to a taster event at the Emirates stadium hosted by Arsenal FC; I tasted various foods, wines and beers they supplied. I’m the manager of an Emirates Executive Box for our customer to attend, I’ve visited 5 star hotels in central London to scout out venues for one of our many events, I’m part of weekly global calls in which I communicate with my other team members from around the word: North America, Europe, Japan & Asia Pacific and Latin America. I have already been able to explore a variety of different interests in photography, event management, blogging, social media, sales and even a bit of Modelling! As I’m writing this I still can’t believe I’ve done so much in such a short space of time.

Oliver raises a glass to his work at Oracle

My placement journey with Oracle began long before my first official day on the job (2nd July 2018). My interaction with Oracle came when I first started the application process; it was through editing my CV and creating a new cover letter. All the research I had done about Oracle really opened my eyes to so many other companies that typically I would have passed on.

My aim with this series of blog posts is to show how exciting a B2B centric company can be, how they differ from predominantly B2C companies and the skills that are required to successfully operate within a large corporate company. I want to eradicate the internal thoughts of “It’s not well known, I’m not going to apply” or “I’ve never heard of this, so it’s not a good placement” stigma that always springs to mind when sifting through Rate My Placement or the SBS Jobs Board. It’s common to want to work for the biggest ‘customer facing’ companies in the world, because as a consumer those are the companies you are familiar with. However, not all the best placements are with those companies, in fact some of the best placement schemes are in the organisations that are relatively unknown to people outside the Business/Marketing world. The message I want to convey is to not dismiss companies purely because you have never heard of them, explore each opportunity, research every company and I can’t stress enough…Keep your options open!

Even though I’m an Intern at Oracle I certainly don’t get treated like one, I’m given tasks and responsibilities that genuinely have an impact on hundreds of people around the world and I’m a part of a team that respects me and treats me as an equal. I’m only getting started with my placement and can’t wait to see what the next 11 months of my time at Oracle has in store.


Real Responsibility: A Millennial’s Insight into an Industrial Placement

This post is taken with permission from the Xerox Connect blog. To read the full original post, please click here.

In the United Kingdom, university students in their penultimate year are able to apply for industrial placements with companies all over the world for a full year of work. This counts as their third year and, once their placement is done, they go back to university to complete their fourth and final year.

“The placement program is an unbelievably invaluable asset,” Rhiannon Thomas, Entry Programs Specialist, explained. “Not many 21 year olds can say they’ve had a full year’s worth of work in a global and corporate environment with real responsibilities, and a clear impact from the start.”

Emma Walker is studying marketing at University of Southampton. This year, she is a marketing and events executive for our Global Experiential Marketing team. Within her first three months on placement, she had experienced the initial planning, event set-up and break-down, as well as providing constant end-to-end support of the INKjet-setters Summit 2017, a global, annual Xerox marketing event in Marseille, France.

“If it wasn’t for Emma, I would be completely lost,” Jane Campbell, Event Operations Manager, said. “If she didn’t have to go back to university, I’d keep her on full-time.”

“If a recruiter from an events management standpoint were to compare Emma’s CV to an average university student’s after their standard three years and minimal work experience,” Joanna Adams, Associate Recruiter, explained. “Emma would be at an incredibly huge advantage.”

Not to mention the wonderful reference that Jane will provide.

“Industrial placement programs are designed to give students support, development opportunities, and maximum exposure to the corporate environment,” Joanna pointed out. “Students get involved in the very heart of the business from the onset.”

Industrial Placement Programme

Pavan and two Xerox students (Joe left and Justin right) at a careers fair.

All of these aspects are a goldmine for a potential recruiter. Especially for companies that have graduate schemes, which are similar to industrial placements. A three-year program, the graduate scheme is designed for young people with Bachelor’s degrees, and helps them grow into specialist roles.

“Students who have previously completed an industrial placement are at an incredible advantage when applying for these positions,” Rhiannon said.


How To Get A Job In Digital Marketing As A Placement Student

This post was written by Alex Bennett, Inbound Marketing Specialist at Firebrand Training

People spend twice as much time online as they used to 12 years ago. As consumers become more active online, businesses must now invest in digital marketing to reach them. Because of this, digital marketing professionals are in high demand: 76% of businesses now suffer from a shortage of digital skills.

To break into the industry after university, a relevant placement can be invaluable. Balancing job hunting and university commitments can be a challenging task – but landing the perfect placement will make it worthwhile.

At Firebrand Training, we regularly interview and recruit digital marketing placement students from universities across the country. These are our tips for getting a job in digital marketing as a placement student.

Understand digital marketing

Before you begin to craft your perfect covering letter and CV, take the time to understand the areas, technologies and skills that make up digital marketing.

While you won’t be expected to have mastered every aspect of digital marketing, an awareness is crucial. Before interviewing, make sure you’re confident that you could provide an overview of the primary digital marketing channels – like paid search, SEO, email and social media.

Digital marketing is massive and without a thorough understanding, you could find yourself blindsided during an interview by unknown terms or concepts. It will be clear to an interviewer when  you haven’t researched their industry.

Play to your strengths

Digital marketing is a varied and exciting industry that cover distinct careers, appealing to different people. From an analytical paid search expert to a creative content marketer, you have the opportunity to work across a variety of roles and technologies.

Because of this, it’s critical you consider which areas of digital marketing interest you the most. You’ll probably find that the areas you’re passionate about are those you are the most skilled and knowledgeable in. Once you really understand the distinct areas and skills within the industry, you’ll likely find one that interests you and aligns with your strengths.

If your passion hasn’t yet led you to research and improve your knowledge of these areas, it’s not too late to start researching (read on for a list of our top digital marketing blogs and publications!)

When you’re searching for placements, look for roles which play to your strengths and interests. You’ll find it easy to talk articulately on something that you are passionate about.

Next, make sure your CV and covering letter highlights this. For example, if you’re a competent writer (a skill that lends itself well to most digital marketing roles) emphasise your ability to generate clear, concise and error-free copy for the web.

Decide what you DON’T want to do

Placement opportunities will come from any company of any shape or size. When choosing which applications you want to pursue, you may find it helpful to first think about what you’d rather steer clear of.

Smaller companies may give you more control over your projects, whereas larger companies may support you more with office perks or social benefits. Get employed by an agency and you’ll work for multiple clients, potentially across a number of industries. Alternatively, working for an in-house marketing department will mean focusing on your own company’s products and services.

Deciding what you don’t want to do and working backwards from there will help you more effectively target the roles you really want.

Stay current

Once you’ve built up your general digital marketing knowledge, it’s crucial to keep it up-to-date. The tech industry evolves fast and digital marketing is no different.

Of course, the internet is the best place to stay current. Read up on the latest trends with these popular digital marketing blogs and publications:

Candidates that demonstrate an understanding of current industry trends, innovations and technologies will impress. Whoever interviews you will know that using an outdated digital marketing technique can have catastrophic consequences for their business. Put their mind at ease by proving you’re in the know.

Research before your interview

This advice could be applied to any interview, but it’s particularly crucial when interviewing for a digital marketing role. Figure out how to answer the question: “What do they do?” – if you can’t answer a question like this, you’ll have a hard time marketing the company.

Make sure you also know why you want to work for them. Do you believe in the product? Does it excite you? What do their customers say about them? Who do they compete with?

Answer these questions by scouring their online presence, including their website(s), social media, external publications (like press releases) and email newsletters. Depending on the type of business, you may also want to mystery shop them and get your information directly from the organisation.

During this process, you should get a good idea of the digital marketing channels used by the company and to what extent they are utilised. You might even be able to suggest improvements if asked during the interview.

You’ll also find it useful to look up your interviewer on LinkedIn. By doing this you should be able to get a good idea of their job role and previous experience – valuable context for your interview and a good way to prepare for your face-to-face meeting.


Start-up skills: highlights from the sprint

This post originally appeared on the Future Worlds blog

It’s not every day that a group of Business School students get together with their peers from Electronics and Computer Science, to compete for VIP entry to Ministry of Sound. Not often do these students collaborate to create business ideas, monetise and marketise their plans, then hone their pitch, all under the guidance of expert mentors. At our recent ‘Skills Sprint’ event, however, we achieved just that, all within the space of five hours. Here are a couple of my highlights:

The humble Post-it note

Future Worlds mentor Robbie Rice introduced us to a fresh way of brainstorming using the Post-it note. Brainstorming sessions can be problematic: they tend to have a bias towards the more vocal or extrovert members of the group, at the expense of valuable ideas which are left unvoiced. We were particularly aware of this at the Skills Sprint, with teams made up of people who hadn’t met each other before, and who had varying levels of experience.

Robbie showed us a great way of ensuring all voices and ideas are heard:

  1.  Pose the problem – write down what it is you’re going to address.
  2.  Write down ideas on Post-it notes. In silence, each individual writes up their ideas.
  3.  Read out each note.
  4.  Call for any more ideas. Discuss how ideas might be merged.
  5.  Vote for the best ideas. Each individual places a sticker or smaller Post-it note on the idea(s) they’d like to take forward.

Just 15 minutes after the start of the event, this technique had diverse teams eagerly coming up with ideas in response to a real-world business challenge set by University spinout BluPoint. Ideas generation is a key startup skill. You can find more details on this approach here.


As a business idea develops, there comes a point when you’re going to need buy-in or investment from someone else. We wanted to highlight this key startup skill during the event, so got teams to pitch twice: once for their initial idea, and then second for investment. Why twice? Pitching can be intimidating – particularly the first time! – and we wanted to give people the chance to develop and improve.


Each team was given valuable feedback on their first pitch from Future Worlds mentors, as we recharged our batteries over pizza. Their advice ranged from pitching behaviours (“Look your audience in the eye”; “Pause after a big claim to give it more power”) to content, and was well-received by each team. I was really impressed by the resulting quality of the second pitches, which were succinct, confident, and compelling.

The lesson? Future Worlds has some excellent mentors, able to give valuable advice in a short space of time. Even the most nervous pitcher can improve under their guidance!


Reuben WilcockOur first joint Skills Sprint event was a bit of a trial run. We were really pleased with how it turned out, both in terms of outcomes and delivery. As someone who works mostly with Southampton Business School students, I was struck by the synergy of two groups of students, with different academic backgrounds, and how valuable their cooperation was.

Overall, an excellent event. Here’s to the next one!