As part of my Business with Public Relations course at Liverpool John Moores University, I have the option to take a sandwich year before progressing to my final year. When I was looking for a university course, it was vital that the courses I was applying for had this option.
Personally, I think it extremely worthwhile to take a placement year as it adds SO much to your CV and is so valuable when it comes to applying for graduate jobs as you already have that year’s experience in a PR or relevant working environment.
From second year began in September, we have constantly been given information about placements and who’s offering what and how to apply for them. I was applying to as many as I could in my free time (which was extremely limited) and was lucky to hear back from the first two that I applied for.
We were told by our Employability Support Unit that it would be very likely that we would get rejected from 80% of the first 20 or so roles we applied for and only with practice and experience would we be successful in acquiring a placement.
Maybe I was one of the lucky ones, or had the relevant experience on my CV, who knows. But the first placement position that I applied for was the one I was most interested in as it involved working in beauty, working with the most amazing brands and it also involved living in London.
A lot of us on my course applied for the position and we were told that thousands would be applying as it is such a worldwide known organisation and the role sounded amazing. I gave it a shot as I thought I had as good a chance as anyone else. I received a phone call a few weeks after sending my application to say I’d made it through to the assessment day which would take place in London at the beginning of December.
I’ve only been to London once in my life so to find out that I was going to be heading there in a few weeks, I was over the moon. I booked into a hotel so that I could spend the day before the assessment, sightseeing around the city. I was given my brief for the presentation in advance and prepared well, practicing a lot and performing a mock presentation in front of one of my lecturers.
I had nothing to lose so I went to London feeling well prepared and tried to be as confident as I could. I thought to myself, ‘why not me?’ There was no point going in with the attitude of ‘I’m not going to get it’. I desperately wanted the job and was going to try my best in order to get it. I was determined not to come out of the interview second guessing myself and thinking ‘I should’ve said this’ or ‘I didn’t get all my points across’ etc.
I left my hotel at 8am as it was a 30 minute walk to the office and I wanted to have a look around the town and see if I liked it and whether I could see myself potentially living there. The area was lovely, with a lot of shops, bars and restaurants – they even had an O’Neills bar like the one we have here in Liverpool so I was sold!
I was the second to arrive with another fifteen girls arriving afterwards. There were three positions being assessed that day: Visual Merchandising, Sales and Retail and PR. There was only three of us there interviewing for the PR role which I was so surprised by. I was quite pleased that I’d made it to the final three and in a way I was even more determined as I had less competition for the role. The other two girls were so lovely and it was impossible to say who would get the job.
I had my presentation first and I was over the moon with how it went. The interview was so relaxed and I was definitely able to get my personality across and I said everything that I had planned. It couldn’t have went any better. We then had a group work task which also went well. I contributed, made creative suggestions, made sure to keep an eye on the time and made sure everyone in the group was involved and contributing their thoughts and ideas.
During the lunch break we were able to meet with the current interns working there this year. This was a great opportunity to ask a lot of questions and to find out whether it was the right job role and company for me. I probably asked too many questions but I was just eager to find out everything that I could and Charlotte was extremely helpful with her answers and advice.
We ended the day with an English, Maths and Excel test. The tests were quite simple – nothing compared to the verbal and numerical reasoning tests I’ve had to complete for other companies.
I left the assessment day feeling very content with how I’d performed and I knew I had tried my best. If I wasn’t to get the role, at least I was able to go to London for a few days, so that in itself was a bonus for me. I was chuffed with myself for getting this far and down to the last three candidates.
I’m a very firm believer in fate and kept thinking that if it’s meant to be, it will be. Anything for you won’t pass you. I had worked my hardest and it was now in fate’s hands whether this was going to be another part of my journey into the Public Relations industry.
On Monday morning of this week I received a phone call from the HR of the company to provide me with feedback and of course, to tell me whether I had been successful or not.
As soon as the phone rang I bolted straight out of my uni class and into the corridor so that I could hear her clearly. She asked me what my thoughts were on the assessment day and whether I’d received a clear understanding of the job role. I assured her I knew the day-to-day roles and what would be required of me and then she said, ‘Well I have good news. We want to offer you the PR placement role here at Coty!‘
Let’s just say a lot of tears were shed that morning and I’m still in shock that I’m moving to London in six months time for a YEAR and will be working in the PR department of one of the world’s leading beauty companies!!!
(Did I mention the PR team met Gerard Butler the week before my interview?)
Everything seems to be working out for me at the minute and I really couldn’t be happier.
The placement office at my university also notified me that I’m the first in the business school to receive a placement offer! It really shows – hard work pays off.