TAKING A PLACEMENT: Suggestions From a Successful Graduate

January is the time when world-known companies are a spotlight for all the second year students. Everlasting question “Is it worth it?”, resume editing, cover letters and collecting references from the last employers become the headache, impossible to avoid. To make this task easier, take your time to read through this interview with one of the Coventry University’s brightest graduates – Arturs Andrejevs, who has reached career’s heights despite his young age and diploma got just a year ago.

-Hi, Arturs, it’s great to see you today! How are you?

-Hi, Laura, it’s good to see you too, thanks for giving the opportunity to share my experience -and some knowledge with those who are doubted about their placement years now.

-It’s a pleasure for me. Can you introduce yourself please and tell us a little bit about your current job and responsibilities?

-Well, as you know, I graduated from Coventry University in 2016, I did Aerospace Systems Engineering course. At this moment, I am working as a project engineer at Jaguar Land Rover company. My general duty is to help senior engineers to manage their projects as well as look after my own smaller ones, that I have been assigned to do.

-That sounds impressive, as only the minority of graduates are given the chance to work for such big organization and have supervising position straight after completing their course. —–How did you achieve that?

-That is a good point, Laura. I mean the difficulty finding a job relevant to your degree in a short period of time. Personally I think that good grades and studying helped me a lot, the biggest point of influence is my placement t I did after the second year.

-Where did you take your internship?

-I did it in Rolls Royce – power system and aircraft engine manufacturing company.

-What kind of organization is it?

-It’s a worldwide known company, one of the leading companies in aerospace industry. They produce aircraft engines for large civil aircraft made by Boeing and Airbus and power systems for marine and energy applications.

-It seems like you were on a good position from the very beginning. What was the process of getting the employment, what difficulties have you faced?

-Well, the major difficulty was to choose a few options for the third year fro a wide range of offers. It took most of my time. However, the most challenging aspect was to write a cover letter – your ticket to the selection process. Usually each organization receives a few thousand applications for one position. So, to avoid wasting time with non-suitable candidates, it reduces them by the system called “match”. They upload all the resumes to the program, which finds words, which were given in the candidates’ criteria list – if they need sociable person, computer will look up words like good communication skills, problem solving skills, time management and the list goes on. Before submitting my application, I made sure that my Cover Letter and CV are up to date and are targeted to the applied job position. After a month and a bit I got an email that invited me to attend a full day assessment center and, guess what, I was successful.

-This “match” selection process is rough enough, isn’t it? How would you rate placement, was it worth a gap year? Many students complain that they do not gain any experience during their placements, as nobody puts them into the real working environment and gives non-relevant to degree projects?

– Yes, Laura, I couldn’t agree more. That is why it so important to read job advert very carefully, highlight all the key words and target your CV and Cover Letter. As to my placement, it was very good and I was quite lucky to have an amazing team and a manager, who was looking after me quite well. From the beginning I was working on a real-life project and contributing to the team’s main effort. It helped me a lot with improving my skills and getting ready for the current job, as I have similar responsibilities to those I had two years ago. I guess, when looking for a placement students should pay attention to company’s reputation – read reviews from current or previous employees. Important thing is the size of the company as it will have a affect on the number of areas you will be exposed to. Large companies tend to have very specific positions which is good when you know what you want to try. Smaller companies will be suitable for those who want to get a wider look at the business as a whole as they most likely will be working on numerous different projects. What is more, money is not the last thing you should care about. Smaller companies do not always offer well-paid positions for students. That means you will need to work a part-time job somewhere as well, which is not the best idea when you have to stay focused on your career.

-So does it mean that placement helped you to choose the specific working area you want to work at?

-Yes, I can definitely agree with that, as by doing placement I got a knowledge of how engineering industry is structured and what sort of position I am interested at.

-What would you suggest to current second years to think about when taking an internship?

-Well. There are several points I would like to mention. If you have an opportunity to take the placement year, definitely take it. It will help you to decide what department do you want to work in when you graduate and, who knows, maybe you will get an offer to continue working there after finishing your degree. Just do not forget about company’s reputation, size, analyzing the specific things they offer for you and profit for yourself in both: experience and financial well-being.

-Thank you, Arturs for the valuable tips and advice for all the second years!


Laura Jurgel

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