(or…My Very Much Conventional Guide to Getting a Placement)
Be aware as the title does not lie. This post is going to contain sentences such as “Be yourself!” and “Start early!” and honestly I regret nothing.
As someone who has gone through the whole process from the nervousness before applying, the endless waiting, stuttering in interviews to finally being offered a placement at Microsoft I can tell you however seemingly annoying sentences like the ones above are, they are actually some of the best help you can get. Obviously, I can only speak for myself as this was my personal experience however, if it can help a fellow student then I am happy to share.
Even though I made the critical mistake of applying a couple of days before the deadline I had actually been preparing my application for months. I started working on it as soon as possible and my advice is to not be afraid and just start doing it. For me even registering on the company’s website was intimidating but you need to setup as soon as possible to get as much time as possible to prepare your answers. So just click on the sign up button and here it comes… start early!
The next step is simple. Use your careers advisers as much as you can. You are responsible for writing your own answers, CV and cover letter however, the Careers and Employability Service is the number one best place to go check them. If this means going there thirty times before you get the flawless answer then so be it. Each time you go you will be perfecting your answers and that is what sets you apart.
Now if you are a Kent Business School student I recommend attending all the year in industry workshops provided. Yes it can get tiring and maybe a bit repetitive, however, only by attending all of them can you make sure you do not miss information that can potentially be vital. For me it was a simple explanation by the representatives from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. They answered the question on what procedures to follow when a situation made a customer very unhappy. At the time that sparked my interest. I actually did not know the exact steps to fix a problem like this so I listened attentively. A few days later a question just like this popped up in my Microsoft interview. Had I not been there I would not have known how to answer.
The final stage was the assessment centre. I had to wake up at four thirty in the morning to get there on time and felt like I was suffocating the entire journey there. I became calmer as the day went by and saw how people treated me so nicely. What I remember being emphasized the most was that my skills had gotten me there and now was time for my personality to shine. So yeah, you guessed it, time to be yourself! You and other hundreds of applicants have the same combination of degree of study, part-time work experience and volunteering time. As a second year student there is not much to make you stand out if not your personality and honestly that sells better than any top university name. In this last stage they are looking for the people they would like to work with every day. This means someone who will be a good team player and is excited about the job. I think that if you get this image across you have the upper hand.
I understand the formula seems very repetitive and I remember always reading the same thing in every blog and getting frustrated. What I failed to realize back then is that everyone mentions these things because they work! Applying early lifts a huge weight off your shoulders and gives you so much time to prepare. Attending workshops gives valuable insight. Consistent checking in with the careers advisers helps you spot mistakes early on and fix them – they are professionals that know how these processes work and can give the best answers to your questions. They are also great to prepare you for interviews. And finally people want enthusiastic individuals who show interest in the work they do. So if you are being yourself and you are not that enthusiastic about the job consider if it is right for you; because when it is you will feel it and they will see it which is the best combination possible.
I hope this small guide helped you with your journey. Do not give up and keep going! Hard work will never let you down! Best of luck!