Hello. Welcome to my newest blog series, documenting the thoughts of placement students as far and wide as I can. Each week (hopefully) I will have a profile of a current placement student giving their thoughts on searching for placements, the competitiveness, how they found the process and what they think of their placement they are currently undertaking. And most importantly, they will give their verdict on whether they think a year in industry is worthwhile.
This week’s interview is with Kiri Paul who works as the Luxury Marketing Assistant at Coty on brands including Chloé, Gucci, Tiffany & Co. and Miu Miu.
Kiri attends the University of Arts, London, where she studies on the BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing course and is currently 11 months into her placement position. Below are her thoughts on placement life so far:
The application process
OC: Is a year-long placement compulsory on your course?
KP: When initially applying for university, I was drawn to the courses that had a placement year option. For me, taking a break from my studies and working in the field would allow me to put into practice the knowledge I had learned on my course and gain an insight into what area of marketing I would like to begin my career.
A placement year was optional on my course but I was keen to obtain one as for me I knew it would allow me to experience the industry, obtain and develop key skills and would teach me things my course would not.
How did you find applying for placements; Did you apply for many? Was there a team at your university to help with placement searching? What websites/resources did you use for your search?
I found the placement process fairly easy. I sought opportunities early, would apply as soon as applications were open and if a placement was not advertised, I would email the company to see if they could offer me one. I applied to several placements before Coty, but I received the offer fairly quickly and felt it was the best decision to accept on the spot.
I was also fortunate to have a careers team at university who helped with my CV and applications and provided guidance throughout the process. I mainly used our university portal which listed all the placements available relating to my course and also used LinkedIn to seek opportunities.
What would be your advice to students who are looking for placements themselves?
My number one tip is to be proactive and start early. By doing so, it gives you more time to apply to several companies and it shows employers the kind of candidate you are and companies love a student who has a ‘go-getter’ kind of attitude.
Also, don’t let a rejection get you down! Keep applying, stay positive and chase the opportunities.
Is there anything you would advise them not to do?
Don’t apply to companies you have no idea about, always understand the job specification thoroughly and what the company exactly does. This way you can tailor your cover letter and CV to the company and this will make you stand out amongst other applicants.
How do you think completing a year in industry will give you an advantage when applying to jobs over those that haven’t? (If you think this is the case)
I believe it will give me a great advantage to say I’ve worked for such a large beauty company during my studies for a long period of time and the responsibilities and skills I have gained appeal greatly to employers.
Already, I have seen the advantage as I have managed to secure another internship as soon as I finish with Coty.
Had you interned anywhere before your placement? If so, what job role, how long for and what were the main roles?
I had interned as a Marketing Assistant at many places before Coty, including at View Management, Fenwick and DLA Piper. However, my roles and responsibilities differed tremendously at those work experiences compared to my placement role now. I was a helping hand rather than leading my own large projects and having my own workload.
From your previous internships/work experiences, did this prepare you for full-time work in the role you are in now? Did it help you know what to expect?
Yes and no. From my previous experiences, I was familiar about office etiquette, how to converse with internal employees and external clients and general ad hoc work. However, I was not prepared and did not expect the workload, level of responsibility and what my role entailed. This was a new experience for me and required a lot of learning.
On the job
How did you feel when you first started your placement year? Were you nervous/excited?
I was extremely nervous! I did not know what to expect or if I would be able to do the job. Speaking to other interns and my friends, it was apparent we were all in the same boat and that no matter what, we would get the hang of it… eventually.
Compare your feelings of how you started with how you feel now. Do you feel like your job is second-nature? Or do you feel like you are still learning?
100% still learning. I think within any role you always learn something new each day. I am a lot more competent in my day-to-day tasks but there are obviously instances when I am a bit thrown off and out of my comfort zone, but that’s when I learn the most and develop.
Have you been able to experience other roles within the company?
Despite staying within marketing during my time at Coty, I have managed to learn and become more aware of the wider business by working closely with the other teams.
I have also made an effort to attend talks, meetings and talk to my colleagues so I can absorb as much knowledge as possible. I believe it is extremely important to know about the other roles and how it all relates to the entire business.
What’s been the highlight of your placement year?
There have been so many! Definitely the PR and Marketing events like the GQ Awards – so fancy!
Placements – are they worth it?
Since you’ve been putting your degree into practice, do you think you’ve made the right decision with the course you’ve chosen? Could you see yourself in a similar job once you graduate?
Yes! I love marketing and the beauty/fashion industry. I would love to see myself in a role that is a little more creative and where I have the freedom to execute my own thoughts rather than follow global guidelines. Apart from that, I am happy with the course I have chosen and working at Coty.
Overall, do you think a year in industry is beneficial and prepares students for life post-graduation? Would you recommend it?
I 100% recommend doing a placement. It gives you time to learn valuable and transferable skills, put your theory and university knowledge to practice and just prepares you for a career after studying.
Now that you’ve almost finished your placement year, if you could go back to second year when you were in the application process, would you still choose the same company and role?
Yes it was the right decision. Although it has been challenging, if I hadn’t completed a year in industry I would have never grown into a more competent and confident individual and learned everything I have so far or even had the opportunities I have been given.
Last question – Do you feel more motivated to go into final year or are you feeling apprehensive?
I am looking forward to going back to final year, although it will feel weird being out of a routine again, I look forward to applying my new skills and knowledge to my degree.