By Jade Redrup on Tue 27 November 2018 in Placement Blog
Hey everyone, I'm Jade! If you're struggling to know if a placement year is right for you, then give my blog a read and I'm sure you'll be convinced that it's one of the best decisions you'll ever make!
If you are unsure whether a placement year is for you, then I get you completely! Like a lot of students out there, I had the same doubt... struggled deciding whether a placement year between 2nd and 3rd year at University was something that I wanted to do. I wanted to gain experience in the workplace, but it meant leaving all my friends behind at university. Being torn between these 2 things, I decided to apply for placements in Portsmouth so that I could still live at University during my placement year. This way, I didn’t have to leave my Uni family!
I started my search for placements in Portsmouth using the job advertisement site, Rate My Placement and Glassdoor; I was desperate to find my dream placement. However, once I had started my search into all the amazing opportunities and companies, I began to realise that doing a placement year was something that I really wanted to do. There were too many great opportunities out there, and I soon decided that I didn’t mind where the role was located - I just didn’t want to miss out!
Soon, applying to placements became the focus of my life. I was updating my CV, completing telephone interviews left, right and centre, and it was so exciting! In the application process period, I honestly learnt so much about the journey of finding a placement, noticing that it really takes a lot of dedication and determination. At times it was very demotivating, especially when I was rejected from placement schemes after I had put so much effort into the application. Though, I realised that resilience is something that is crucial when applying for jobs – you literally must keep going and not give up. I remained enthusiastic and engrossed in exploring all the opportunities that were available to me, inspiring 2 of my friends to do placements as well. My original dilemma was no longer an issue.
Although, as I mentioned before, at times applying to placements can get disheartening, especially as you put so much time and effort into what returns as a rejection. However, when you get that first invite to an assessment centre, it completely makes up for it! I had to move all my focus from telephone interviews and CV updating, to finding as much information about the company as I could to prepare for a face-to-face interview. It got seriously real at this point.
ProspectSoft was my first assessment centre, and on the morning of the big day I was absolutely buzzing with nerves and excitement. As soon as I arrived the current placements were so friendly and welcoming; putting my nerves at ease completely.
The day was packed with activities and filled with insight! From a few team games, a short individual presentation, an Excel/ written test, and finally to an interview with the Directors & Mangers, it was a super busy day and I was certainly ready to get home to bed! Despite the tiring day and all the hours of applications, interviews and preparation, getting that job offer was honestly so worth it.
I had achieved what I set out to accomplish and that felt amazing.
Now, having been working as a placement student at ProspectSoft for 4 months, I have absolutely no regrets deciding to do a placement. I have learnt so many priceless skills, something that graduates, who have not done a placement, won’t have developed to the same level. My role as Account Management Assistant is very varied, but mainly consists of overseeing the process of moving customers from our desktop Version 6 CRM to our Prospect 365 Web CRM – which is hugely varied in itself!
So, what does this actually mean? It starts with getting a test drive set up for Prospect 365, then giving a demo of the new system and taking into consideration all of the prospect’s preferences. If the customer likes the look of Prospect 365, I then discuss with them what useful bespoke work they have had carried out in Version 6, and want in Prospect 365. Once that has been decided I write up the project requirements for their migration and discuss this with the development team to get an estimate for the price. This is the time where I talk money! Discussing the estimate with the customer, I see if they are happy to move forward, asking them if they would like to purchase the relevant Points Packs for the migration. This requires great communication skills and excellent attention to detail, to ensure customer satisfaction; there is nothing more rewarding than a happy customer!
Alongside this, during my placement I have surprisingly discovered that I really enjoy the technical side of it. I was worried that I wouldn’t properly understand this area, although I managed to pick it up really quickly. As a result of this, I have been involved with answering support calls when customers have technical issues, setting up test drives, running scripts on customers servers and setting up Sage integration. I really have an enormous range of responsibilities which vary day to day. This is because ProspectSoft is a SME, meaning there is huge flexibility to develop and tailor your learning to your preferences!
Nevertheless, whilst moving location for a new job did seem scary, daunting and intimidating, this fear soon disappeared and I learnt to embrace everything around me. Having just joined Oxford University Gymnastics team, I now feel more at home and I am really beginning to love living in Oxford. A placement year is an amazing opportunity, and so I really want to make the most out of everything around me to be the best I can be. Just because you’re moving away, it doesn’t mean you have to stop doing everything you love. In fact, new places have heaps of positive things to give you, so take advantage of all the opportunities and explore your surroundings to develop who you are!
Nonetheless, my original fear of missing University really isn’t an issue anymore, as I have met so many new people living in Oxford and it’s the start of a really exciting adventure. My tip to placement students would be just keep applying, power through and believe in yourself, because you will find a placement; just keep going!