placement wave

January 13, 2017, by Carla

Avoid the ‘Placement Wave’ – Start Applying Now!

Sophie Parfitt. BSc Microbiology

An industrial placement is not just getting a job for a year during your degree – it’s lifetime experience that can set you apart. So before end of year panic sets in, take some time to get yourself sorted for those placement applications.

I started my placement journey way back in 2014 – two years ago! I was a bright-faced and terrified fresher who found herself at the placements stand at the Biosciences Careers Fair. Experience, skills, the opportunity to work anywhere in the country or abroad, and getting paid to do so – what was not to love?! I decided then and there that I was doing a placement. Bundled with leaflets – and a few cheeky free pens – I was content that next year I would apply for one as soon as I could.

When I got back for my second year in 2015, sadly, life was not so simple.

Finding a great placement was easy, thanks to the tonnes of resources set up by the placements team in the School of Biosciences. However, I still needed to put in a lot of my own labour. There was a CV to rewrite, shred to pieces and then rewrite again. There were companies and subjects I hadn’t even heard of I needed to research. There were irritating aptitude tests to wade through. There were awkward, yet informative, phone interviews. Finally, there were many – so many – application forms to fill out. This onslaught of exciting, but exhausting, opportunities became something I coined the ‘placement wave’.

There was rarely a weekend where I didn’t whittle away at my application list, or a lunchtime between lectures where I wasn’t squinting at my overworked CV and cover letters. My friends and family – I have to apologise! Through those stressful months, I was probably not much fun to be around, but I did have an advantage that in the end paid off.


Organisation is key. Cute lunchbox is optional.

Soon enough, I had a placement lined up, in exactly the field I had set my heart on.  By the time I was up to my ears in spring term, the ‘placement wave’ had all but passed, allowing me to get on with my exams and coursework deadlines with the sweet assurance I was going to start a new life in Macclesfield in the next Autumn. Life was good.

Not everyone was as lucky as me to land a great placement, but what I want to highlight is this: giving yourself a good head start can only help. The early bird gets the worm, they say! Dig out your CV, have a root around those companies that you’ve dreamed of working for; you’ll be surprised how many offer placements to inquisitive students. It’s worth popping your tutor an email to ask around their department, or a guest lecturer who may well have contacts in your chosen area.

Are you studying with the School of Biosciences? Contact Judith Wayte for a chat about the possibility of doing a placement, otherwise check out the internships and placements section on the Careers website.

Posted in Student BloggersWork experience