Completing my placement year during a global pandemic

27 August 2021

In this blog, BSc Accounting & Finance student Maxime talks about completing his placement year both online and in-person and how he managed to make the most of his experience.

My name is Maxime Gosmand, I am a final BSc Accounting & Finance student from France and I have just finished my placement year with fram^. I chose to study at Warwick Business School because of its worldwide renowned reputation. As someone who wanted to pursue my studies in finance, I knew from my research that the University of Warwick provided plenty of opportunities in finance especially with regard to the number of finance-specific societies available on campus. The international community of students and academics also made it a very attractive option to me when it came to the decision-making stage.

At the end of my first year, I realised that I wanted to complete a placement year as part of my course. When I started my second year I attended a few different events and conducted some research about the pros and cons of taking a placement year and I came to the conclusion that it would be very much worth it in terms of gaining experience for my future career. Furthermore, due to the impact of the pandemic, I thought that finishing my university experience online would not be as beneficial to me as finishing my experience in person. Therefore a placement year seemed the perfect option for me to bridge that gap.

When applying for my placement year I found the recruitment process to be pretty straightforward. After applying I had an initial call with the CFO, followed by a call with a previous intern and finally a call with the CEO. At the end of my call with the CEO, I was made an offer. Before applying for my placement year the WBS CareersPlus helped me in finding the sort of role I wanted to do during my placement year, and they also supported me with drafting my cover letter and CV.

When looking a placement year options, Vietnam was always at the top of my list due to the fact my grandfather had migrated from there to France during the war and therefore I had always had the desire to go there. My placement year was somewhat different due to the impact of the pandemic and therefore I completed part of my placement year in person and part of placement year online. The start of my placement year began remotely which was an interesting experience as it heavily relied on trust and clear communication with my manager and colleagues. However, I found this was a great way to kick start my placement year as I had to form good working relationships with my colleagues from the very start which put my communication skills to the test. On the other hand when I managed to finally complete my placement year in person I had the opportunity to meet my colleagues face-to-face and build on the working relationships that I had already formed with them online. I also feel that working with them in person enabled us to become friends rather than simply colleagues and they were able to act as mentors for me in my role.

Looking back at my placement year with fram^ I am grateful that I had the opportunity to travel to Asia and Sweden in the midst of a pandemic. After being based in Vietnam for a couple of months I can honestly say it was an incredible experience. Some of my favourite memories related to the beautiful landscapes, the kind-hearted people, and the amazing food! It is the kind of country that changes the way you see the world. One of my favourite memories in Vietnam is when I went traveling to an island, and I took care of a lady while on the boat as she got sick and I had to help her get through the 4-hour boat trip. I then had the opportunity to meet her entire family who invited me to stay with them for the entire weekend as thank you for looking after her which was really heart-warming.

Whilst working in Sweden, my favourite memories are based around the people I met, especially my manager. After meeting him online at the start of my placement year, finally getting to meet him in person was brilliant and brought another dimension to my placement year experience. I also enjoyed exploring Stockholm and making the most of such an amazing city.

At fram^ I was working as an Investment and Venture analyst whereby I supported the Managing Directors with their growth plans. This involved working on projects such as market research, competitor analysis, strategy, and budget reviews. I also gained exposure to the investment side of the business and participated in fundraising where I was responsible for creating presentations to be sent to external investors.

During my placement year, the accounting modules I studied during my BSc Accounting & Finance course were very helpful. As part of my role I had to review financial statements and make decisions based on this and therefore knowing how to handle such complex information was critical.

For other students that are considering whether to study at WBS I would say that WBS can bring you all the experiences that you want. Do you want to work abroad as part of your degree – then you can. Do you want to make lifetime friends and memories – then you can. Do you want to explore different career paths – then you can. With the huge variety of careers events organised by both the central university and WBS you have so many opportunities to discover where your interests lie and what career path is right for you. Along with the incredible alumni network you have lots of networking opportunities available to you. Furthermore, the Warwick campus is perfectly situated so that you can enjoy campus with an international community whilst also being only an hour away from London.

Every WBS Undergraduate* has the opportunity to study abroad during their studies. If you would like to find out more about our courses on offer, download our Undergraduate brochure.

*Joint degrees may differ, please refer to the partner department for study abroad information.