How a placement year can help you decide which career is right for you

In this blog, Ellen talks about her current placement at Coventry Building Society. How the careers support prepared her for the recruitment process and why she now knows that a career in Human Resources is right for her. 

Hi, my name’s Ellen and I am a second year student studying BSc Management at Warwick Business School (WBS). I am currently completing a 12-month placement in Human Resources at Coventry Building Society where I am working as a Talent Acquisition Co-ordinator, supporting Head Office and Early Careers recruitment.

Before coming to Warwick, I took a year out to gain some employment experience and having enjoyed it so much, knew I wanted to take the opportunity to gain more experience before I graduate. As part of the Management degree, I’ve always enjoyed modules relating to employment law and organisations and this placement year has helped me realise that I definitely want a career in HR when I graduate. More specifically I have realised how much I enjoy the fast pace and diversity of recruitment, particularly from an Early Careers perspective.

There were a number of stages to complete when applying for placements which at the beginning of second year, all seemed to be quite daunting. However, the support of the WBS CareersPlus team was invaluable. From how to structure your CV, to how to complete psychometric tests or succeed in an assessment centre, they guided me through every step and the hints and tips provided enabled me to be successful in the process. As part of my role now, I support graduate recruitment and have progressed candidates right from their initial application through to offering them a role after an Assessment Centre. It has been so interesting to see the process from an employers’ perspective and I have really been able to understand what makes a student stand out, a lot of which echoes the advice from WBS CareersPlus. I will definitely be making the most out of this when I come back to WBS for my final year!

I’m almost coming up to the end of my placement year and I can honestly say I’ve had an amazing experience. I’ve met some fantastic people and pushed myself out of my comfort zone in a working environment. I’ve had many opportunities to get involved in new projects and share my own knowledge as well as build connections both within the business and externally.

Coventry Building Society is also hugely passionate about community work and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to become a Community Champion whilst on my placement. This has allowed me to network with not only the wider team but also the local community and it has overall made me really feel like I’ve been able to give back and make a difference. I have also been exposed to a lot of change in a growing organisation and can really see how the theory I have learnt at WBS is put into practise. Equally, my course modules have really helped set me up for success in my current placement. For example, even though I don’t see a career in finance, understanding the basic principles has really helped me in my role when providing a recruitment service for the Finance department. Also, the opportunity to present in different modules gave me the confidence to speak to large audiences which is something I definitely feel I have improved on whilst working. All of this, no doubt will be valuable for my final year studies as well as any role I go into in the future.

Overall, opting to do a placement year has been one of the best decisions I have made. Not only has it given me an insight into the world of work, but it has allowed me to identify areas of interest for when I graduate and ultimately, a career which I know I will enjoy. With the help of the people I have met and the additional opportunities I have had at work, I feel much more confident in knowing what I want to do when I graduate.

I would absolutely recommend a placement year to anyone who is questioning whether it is a good choice during their studies or is unsure of their future career and of course, I would massively recommend the WBS CareersPlus team for their support at every stage of the application process.

A few tips that I was given and have learnt myself would be:

  • Always research the company your applying for and tailor each application to them. Although it means each one takes longer it definitely helps to make you stand out.
  • Practise psychometric tests – As a WBS student you get access to loads of practise tests so definitely spend time on them - the practise deductive tests were super helpful to get your head around changing shapes and symbols!
  • Have a mock assessment centre – I did one at a WBS workshop and learnt loads about what to do and what not to do!
  • When on placement, view everything as an opportunity to learn something new. It’s almost like a trial run to see if you enjoy a particular area or career so get involved in as much as possible, build new connections and don’t be afraid to ask questions as it will only help you later on!

How can Warwick Business School help you achieve your career aspirations? Find out more about Ellen's course, BSc Management here.