I’ve been out and about visiting students on their undergraduate placement recently. As part of the process we ask how students found their placement, and that’s shown quite a range of creativity, with quite a high proportion going beyond just clicking apply on the job board. Such as:
Compiling a Target List
One way to take some control of the process is to start by writing a list of companies you’d like to work for. The students that have done this then visit the company websites to see if they are advertising placement year. If they are they’ve applied, but if they aren’t the students have proactively contacted the companies to persuade them to do so.
Converting a Part-Time job into a Placement
Lots of students work part time to fund their degrees, and some are proactively using their contacts and reputation as a good worker to secure a full year’s work. This is sometimes in the same team, but often in a different team/location that more closely fits their current career thoughts.
Starting with a Summer Internship
Larger companies often make strategic decisions about internships, either to offer Summer or Year Long internships. I met with a student yesterday who used the Summer Internship as a shop window & systematically set about persuading the company to extend his contract to a full year out.
Putting themselves out there
In careers theory jargon, this is Planned Happenstance, the idea that good things come to those who proactively and repeatedly put themselves in the right place. This could be saying yes to seemingly unrelated opportunities, attending events aligned to the career you want to follow, hanging out where the right types of people hang out, etc.
These approaches don’t just work for Placement Years, they work for all types of job opportunity – so if you’re fed up with clicking on the ‘Apply’ button on endless job boards it’s probably time for you to get a little more creative.