Your one-stop shop for placement applications – from a Manc girly who just went through it

I am an ADHD mess of a Manchester student currently in my first month of placement

So, you have landed yourself the momentous task of finding yourself a placement. You are overwhelmed, unsure where to start, or have already started and want to give up. Allow me to give you some advice from somebody who was in your shoes last year and felt totally clueless.

Before I start, kiss goodbye to the idea the uni will give you any more help than some limited online services. The statistics of Manchester University students who land a placement is often a credit to the relentless work of the students, not the uni. Having said that, rinse whatever you can out of them.

Firstly, I would recommend you start as soon as possible. If you get bored of working on your uni coursework essay, try pulling up your CV and giving it a makeover. Or just browse some sites like RatemyPlacement, the GOV website, or Career Connect, just to get some initial inspiration. As a Geography student, I had no idea what jobs would even be open for me when I began my search.

Then, use the university’s CV service to get it top notch. Is it worth your nine grand? No. But I will say it is one of the tools worth using. Try keeping your CV to two pages max, looking smart and snappy. Show only the most relevant things you have done, framed in the most applicable way. No one cares that you were on the Netball B team in year seven.

Afterwards, send it on to people who can give you advice. Family, friends, lecturers, any wise person you know. Just keep working on it until you are 100 per cent happy because then you can mostly forget about it and have it as a solid document to attach to applications. If you are looking for little things to boost your chances of success, there are many cheap online courses you can do to bolster your CV. Any volunteering you have done is fantastic, and getting yourself established and connected on LinkedIn is great too.

Pre-warning: One petty, massively frustrating thing during this whole process is the way job applications will make you write every section of your CV onto their system, only to ask you to attach your CV too.

It’s annoying, it’s so unnecessary, but it just is what it is. Job applications are incredibly time consuming.

Now onto the actual applications. Depending on the job the process can vary, however most placements in generic job fields follow a similar structure. An initial form, some sort of online assessment, virtual interviews, face to face interviews, and then some sort of final assessment day. My advice here is apply for a variety of roles and just absolutely bulldoze as many applications as you possibly can. There is this weird paradox I found where you need to be putting in 100 per cent effort to every application to make the time worth it… but you also need to send off as many as you can to increase your chances but over time you will find yourself in a rhythm. Annoying, isn’t it?

If working somewhere else is an option, apply for placements there as well. I did this and ended up moving home.

Side note: Do consider how you are going to feel being back home again before you do this. That last sentence may be more of a note to self than anything else, I never realised how much I valued peace, quiet and no one asking me where I’m going when I leave the house, but it was a fair trade-off to sacrifice for a free laundry service.

The university will tell you to rinse your connections and use  sweet old nepotism as much as you can. Annoyingly, they are right. It feels like a stab in the chest seeing other people just fall into placements with mysterious family connections while you are batting off rejections from every angle, but in the words of Frank Sinatra, that’s life. If you are fortunate enough to know somebody who can help you out, just do it. It is a fantastic privilege and will save you a lot of hassle.

This brings me onto everyone’s favourite topic, rejection. I can tell you right now, every single person gets rejected. Half the time it feels like no body’s even read your application. It is not personal, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying when you’ve invested so much time, especially when get next to nothing in the way of constructive criticism. This is just something you will have to come to terms with. Refer back up the page to the wise words of Sinatra.

Placements are not the be all and end all. Everyone is on their own path and if you find yourself completely overwhelmed by trying to find time for all of this alongside your degree, you must prioritise your well-being

For those losing spirit, keep applying, keep trying and things might start falling into place. I know people who found placements in December, I found mine in March, but some people did not get theirs until summer! Time is on your side; you are on your own journey, and it is not a race.

And when an offer lands in your inbox (manifest it people) you’ll be able to stick a middle finger up to anyone who doubted you; and, for the sake of another Sinatra reference, tell them “I faced it all, and I stood tall and did it my way”.

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