Sean Quay

November 3, 2015, by Editor

Summer Placement Applications

As the days are getting shorter and daylight saving starts, it’s official….. Freshers’ week is over and the real work in the University starts. While the temperatures are slowly falling, I can bet my bottom dollar, or should I say pound, that the third years are starting to feel the heat when it comes to summer placement applications, in anticipation of the inevitable pre-registration applications next year. While I am no leading authority in the process, perhaps my experience of making it up as I went along may help you to figure out what to do. So, keeping it simple, here are my three top tips:


Create a spreadsheet of the different deadlines you have to meet for the applications and colour code them to your heart’s content. Doing this helped me tremendously in making deadlines. Chances are, you have quite a few placements that you would like to apply to, so with all the email circulars, the information on websites, the juggling of coursework and extracurricular activities, you’re doing yourself a huge favour by compiling all of the dates.  This is so that you know exactly when you need to submit your applications. Be proactive in looking out for opportunities. The School of Pharmacy hosts pre-registration road shows and enrichment weeks to expand your view on the different opportunities. Attending them definitely helped me in looking for placement opportunities. Also, I was always told to aim to submit my applications a day or two before the deadline to make sure I had time to make any corrections or ask any questions if there were issues with submitting the application.

Bespoke Resumes

You’ve probably heard this enough for me to sound like a broken record but most careers advisors would agree. Applications are kind of like dating, in that companies want to feel that you notice the little things about them that make them unique, as much as they want to see the qualities that make you Mr or Mrs Right. So while it takes plenty of time, do your research. I would look out for person specifications, values and visions of a prospective institution, in order to help plead your case. You wouldn’t want to bring your date for tapas if she or he likes sushi, if you catch my drift. After that, get your resume reviewed, by more than two people if possible. Our School of Pharmacy runs drop in sessions every Friday where the careers advisors may look at your resume and provide feedback. Besides that, your Personal Tutors is always there to help you, so do make a point of reaching out to them. Some applications have specific questionnaires that  you need to answer, especially applications for industry placements. So start early and ask for help along the way. The best thing about university is that you have many resources at your finger tips. Draw upon those to compliment your skills and you’re halfway there!

Practise interviews

So you scored yourself an interview. Well done! It means you look great on paper and it’s time to dazzle them with your sparkling personality. Even the best speakers practise many times before a presentation, so book mock interviews with the careers advisory team to help you with your delivery. I must have gone through about three sessions throughout the year and it helped immensely, so definitely give it a go. I cracked a joke or two, was animated and used words like ‘groovy’ during my interviews and it worked out, so don’t be afraid to be authentic and show your personality during the interview. It helped ease the tension and put both myself and the interviewers at ease. Although, tread lightly with this. When in doubt, just be serious and answer the questions.
With that, I end my two cents (or should that be pennies?) worth of advice. Do your best, be tenacious and relentless and you’ll see the results in no time. Keep warm everyone!

Sean Quay in the foyer of the Pharmacy School Building

Sean Quay in the foyer of the Pharmacy School building


Sean Quay (4th year undergraduate student at the School of Pharmacy)