Shivani looks back to when she first learnt about the types of industry experience you can gain as an undergraduate and recaps her journey, from attending career sessions to quickly adapting when Covid-19 coincided with the last four months of her placement year at Sony.
When I began my application to study my undergraduate degree within the UK, the importance of industry experience within the degree wasn’t really something I focused on too much. At that stage, I was looking at it from an academic perspective and just wanted to learn more about the business environment. I opted to study BSc Management at Warwick Business School (WBS), University of Warwick. Looking back now, as I begin my final year after completing a placement year at Sony Electronics, I can say that studying at WBS has opened doors to a completely new world. Within this blog, I shall be writing about my experience so far to hopefully help others make the most of the careers support to ensure that like myself once you get to your final year you have a much better idea of where you would like to start your career.
I spent my first year at WBS getting used to the UK environment having moved here from India. It was quite late within my first year when I learnt about spring weeks and regretted missing out the on the experience. Spring/Insight weeks, mostly occurring during Easter holidays, are an opportunity for first and second year students to spend a week or two within an organisation, to help them identify what kind of industry they would like to work in. As my studies continued my passion for numbers within the business environment made me grow fonder of finance related modules and having established where my passion lies I was wanted to build a strong CV before I began any work experience applications in my second year. I was determined not to miss out on the opportunity now as I understood more about the process and timeline.
Driven to start my second year as organised as possible, I would regularly check on the CareersPlus area within my.WBS (the bespoke online platform you get access to as a WBS student) where the careers team would post the latest openings for spring weeks, internships/placements and graduate roles. This was also the area where you could find out about the workshops that they were running which covered career support such as CV tailoring, Cover Letter drafting and preparation for interviews and assessment centres. I attended a range of sessions and it was one day when I was talking to my friend about career prospects that she introduced me to the concept of a sandwich year (also known as an intercalated year or placement year). We attended a careers session regarding placement years to find out more information. At this point, I had presumed this option was only applicable to those on a 4-year degree, but I was wrong, and I am so glad I was!
After the career’s session, some online research and a couple more discussions with my friends and the Undergraduate Team, I felt confident that I wanted to extend my degree to 4 years and apply for a placement year relating to finance. When it came to my course transfer the careers team held placement briefings that highlighted the process and offered support regarding any documentation that would need to be completed which really put my mind at ease.
I started to apply for placement year opportunities and before I knew it, I was invited to the assessment centre at Sony Electronics to complete the next stage of the application process. I had attended mock interviews with the WBS CareersPlus team which really helped me feel more confident throughout the application process. After two interviews and an assessment centre day I was so happy to achieve the position and start my placement year as an Internal Audit Intern.
Completing my placement year at Sony has taught me so much, this was the first time that I stepped foot as an intern into a company within the UK. Audit exposed me several departments in the company such as Tax, Risk and Accounts Receivable. Modules from my first year such as: Accountancy, Economics, Operations Management and from my second year: Management Accounting, Corporate Finance, Business Law, GEB and GPCA allowed me to comprehend business terminology and better understand how the organisation operates. It made me recognised how diligent you need to be when opting for modules within your degree as it can majorly complement your field of interest in the business world.
It would not be fair if I didn’t mention how supportive the WBS Team has been throughout this process, from the Undergraduate Office to WBS CareersPlus. They followed up on my re-enrolment, security aspects as I had moved to London, a member of the Careers Team visited me at Sony and also briefly checked with my manager regarding my performance and if I was settling in well and my personal tutor arranged Skype calls at the beginning of every month. To top this, WBS arranged an event at The Shard for all placement year students so we could network with each other as we were all at that stage completing a placement year and find out more detail regarding our final year back at WBS.
When Covid-19 began, it coincided with my last four months at Sony. I have never better understood the strength of an agile, supportive, and visionary team as I did during those last four months. The Head of Department handed me the responsibility of the Business Continuity Planning (BCP) which although was completely out of my job description made me realise how much they valued my work. However, for four months, I had to make my home desk look appealing so that I was motivated to sit on the chair right next to my bed every day. The lockdown resulted in high productivity levels, professionally and personally. With time saved on travel and packing lunches, I was able to explore the culinary artist within me and simultaneously enrol for courses like Python (a beginner-friendly, general-purpose programming language used for web and mobile application development). The 12 months working within Sony gave me the opportunity to learn about the business as whole and this has enabled me to identify more specific roles that I would like to secure when I graduate.
As I look back to where I am today, I am so happy that I decided to complete a placement year but I was equally or probably even more nervous as I embarked onto that next stage of my journey, like many other students! Although a range of my friends were also doing the same, it still meant that I would miss out on finishing my final year of university with some of my other friends who were continuing to study. On the other hand, my dream to work and live in London was finally coming true and now I look back I realise just how much I still got to see those friends thanks to the public transport links between London and Leamington Spa.
A year in the industry of your choice presents you with friends (that you would have never met otherwise), teaches you more about your personality through people’s perspective, gives you an opportunity to holistically learn about business functions and importantly, enough time for you to assess whether or not this career path or industry is right for you.
My advice to those starting their university journey would be:
- Try and plan your future but be equally willing to try something new if you get the opportunity, how do you know what’s right for you if you don’t try new things!
- Always be open-minded! It is hard to predict what a workplace will be like until you are a part of it.
- Trust your decisions. Warwick Business School has your back and the Undergraduate Team and Careers Team are always there to talk to if you need advice.
Discover more about Shivani's course and our range of undergraduate courses.