Is it too late to apply for a placement year?

20 December 2021

December is often perceived as too late to successfully apply for a placement year, and it’s true that many big employers in the UK have already closed their recruitment processes. Placements and Work Experience Careers Ambassador, Michal is here to share his top tips on how it's still possible to secure a placement year opportunity.

  1. Consider smaller employers

Larger employers tend to have early application deadlines and in the UK some companies stop accepting applications as early as September. However, recruitment processes in smaller organisations tend to be shorter and less formalised. As a result, some smaller organisations start accepting applications only a few months before the work experience start date and much later in the academic year (spring term onwards).

Even if you plan to work for a larger company in the future, work experience in a small to medium enterprise (SME) is still very valuable. By working for a smaller organisation you have the opportunity to build closer connections with your team and gain a more well-rounded experience of the whole business. In addition to this, SMEs tend to have a less formalised work culture, which may be perceived as being more welcoming to junior employees.

Some jobs in smaller organisations may not be advertised, in which case do not hesitate to make a speculative application. There are a range of resources available for students studying at WBS on how to make a placement year application. Current students can gain further advice and support on how to tailor their CV, covering letter,s and applications via the WBS CareersPlus resource area on my.wbs.

  1. Explore placement opportunities in other countries

Recruitment processes in the UK tend to close earlier than overseas. In some European countries (such as Germany or Poland), it is possible to secure a placement opportunity in larger companies even if you are applying as late as spring or early summer.

By pursuing a work placement overseas, you can experience the local culture and meet new people. It is also a great opportunity to learn a new language. Working overseas comes with a lot of transferrable skills that are valuable to every employer.

Throughout the year, the WBS Placement & Internship team regularly update the online vacancy list on my.wbs with UK and International vacancies.

  1. Key skills to demonstrate when applying for a placement later on in the year  

The most important skill to show as a late applicant is resilience. You need to overcome the difficulties of your position, learn from rejections to successfully adapt to the new situation. It is key to see the adversities as possible learning opportunities. For example, if you have been rejected by companies where you have applied earlier on in the year, you have the advantage of experiencing the recruitment process already. It is always important to seek feedback, learn from it, and think about how you can improve for the next time. When applying for placement year opportunities later on in the year it is also very important to demonstrate strong motivation and passion for the role that you are applying for which will help differentiate you from earlier applicants and persuade the recruiters to continue with your application. When you’re writing your cover letter make sure you highlight your enthusiasm and motivation for applying to that particular company.

Here is what previous placement year student, Harshika Sharma advises on placement applications:

”As part of my BSc Accounting & Finance course, I completed my placement year at Goldman Sachs within the Internal Audit division. The timeframe was roughly 4-5 months from application to job offer. It was difficult to accept my first rejection, the amount of time, effort, and energy used to complete the assessments to then be rejected was really overwhelming. However, by adapting my strategy, spreading my applications out, and planning my study time effectively I was able to secure my dream placement year opportunity.”

Securing a placement in December or even later might seem tough, but it is possible and perhaps not as difficult as it seems. If you are interested in applying for a placement year and would like some further information you can book an appointment with a member of the WBS CareersPlus Team, find out more here.

Alternatively, if you would like to find out more about our undergraduate courses including our new placement courses for 2022 entry, you can download our undergraduate brochure.