Ancient history alert! We’ve published a more recent version of this post. The original version is still totally awesome, but for the latest tips, we recommend reading ‘5 smarter ways to find a work placement’
We highly recommend that you consider completing a work placement during your studies at Middlesex University. It’s a great opportunity to gain valuable ‘real-world’ experience, practical knowledge, and useful contacts which could give you a competitive advantage once you graduate.
Our top suggestions for finding a work placement include…
1. Use jobs-boards
The interweb’s a BIG place, so we suggest starting with…
- RateMyPlacement.co.uk: As well as placement opportunities, you’ll find handy reviews about the organisations providing them.
- Prospects.ac.uk: Includes helpful guides, job profiles and career tools as well as placement opportunities. If you’re not sure what sort role you might want, take a look at ‘What can I do with my degree?’
- GlassDoor.co.uk: As well as searching for placements you can also read reviews and see what questions other candidates were asked.
- Milkround.com: The UK’s most widely used student and graduate jobs-board.
- LinkedIn.com: You can see which of your connections already works within a company or has contacts there, so get networking before you apply!
- TargetJobs.co.uk: Career advice as well as work placements in the UK and abroad.
- Fledglings.net: A jobs-board specifically for placements.
- Placement-UK.com: Pride themselves on having a personalised approach to matching you with a placement.
- StudentLadder.co.uk: over 2500 placements, graduate schemes and internship. Also lots of useful information for applicants, such as; how to tackle assessments.
- GlobalPlacement.com: As the name suggests… search for placements worldwide!
- GradCracker.com: Specifically for STEM opportunities.
Don’t leave it too late, or you could miss out! Employers in different industries will have very different deadlines for applications – the legal sector is a prime example, with a specific ‘window of opportunity’ for placement deadlines and training contracts across the industry- So don’t put off your search, check closing dates, and get applying as soon as possible.
2. Access the hidden jobs market
Just because there are no vacancies advertised on their website, doesn’t mean they’re not hiring. If you’d really like to work for a particular organisation, consider approaching them, anyway. You might be pleasantly surprised. Accessing this ‘hidden jobs market’ can massively reduce the amount of competition you’ll face. Many students find their ideal placement this way.
Start by doing some research to identify which companies you’d like to work for. Look at the job profiles on Prospects.ac.uk or The National Careers Service website, where you’ll find major employers listed for most roles.
Search for opportunities using a range of approaches to maximise your chances of success. Don’t just use job-search sites, take a speculative approach, use social-media, phone-up or do some networking to liven things up. You could use Eventbrite.co.uk to search for networking events near you. To help maximise your networking ability, remember to practice your elevator pitch. For advice on making speculative applications, take a look at our MDX guide to sourcing and securing a placement.
Consider less well-known organisations. You’ll face a lot of competition if you limit your search to well-known employers in your chosen industry. Perhaps also consider smaller businesses -known as Small and Medium Enterprises or ‘SMEs’- and ‘startups’. These have a totally different work culture to larger organisations, so find which works best for you. (Think of it as a game of Pointless in which you’re trying to win a placement by naming employers that other applicants haven’t thought of!) To find opportunities with SMEs or startups, you could try JobLab.com or WorkInStartups.com
Hot tip for techies: If you’re looking for a networking opportunity within the tech industry, apply for a free place at Silicon Milkroundabout: a jobs fair taking place in London on 20th and 21st May, where you’ll find many small businesses and startups.
Use LinkedIn.com to connect with someone inside the organisation, so you can bypass ‘gatekeepers’ and go beyond the speculative approach. To help improve your LinkedIn profile, you may like to read our blogpost: ‘Perfecting your LinkedIn profile’
3. Use the resources on MDXworks.com
- The MDXworks jobs board: including current placement opportunities (From the first screen, you’ll see more opportunities if you filter your search by location and use keywords).
- Job-hunting guides: tips and advice to help you find jobs more effectively.
- Templates and tools for writing CVs and cover letters, including the MDX CV builder and Cover letter builder.
- Interview simulator and Elevator pitch builder: to help prepare for the real thing.
- Mock assessment day tests: Numerical, verbal, ‘e-tray’ tests and more.
- Latest news and lots more.
4. Search with help from MDXworks
If you’re studying at Middlesex University, you can discuss your search for a placement with a member of the MDXworks on-campus team. You’ll be supported by a specialist, dedicated to supporting students within your particular school of study. You can book an appointment via Unihub (Use your MyUniHub ID and password to log in).
Remember… the MDXWorks team can provide you with guidance on where to look. But ultimately, it’s your responsibility to find your own placement and apply for it!
5. Get your applications reviewed
Make sure you’ve also got an awesome CV and cover letter before you apply. If you’re studying at Middlesex University, remember to get your application reviewed by the MDXworks team before you send them to employers. Send your application form, cover letter or CV to MDXworks@MDX.ac.uk and one of our dedicated team of professionals will provide you with some constructive feedback.
Don’t use the same cover letter and CV for every application… tailor it! Show how you match the requirements of the role. Explain your motivation for applying to that particular organisation. Saying you want to ‘develop your skills and contribute to the business’ is too generic.
Just one more thing…
Stay positive! You may face a few rejections before you succeed. If you’re repeatedly getting knocked-back, make changes to your CV or try a different approach rather than doing the same thing again and expecting a different result. Always ask for feedback to find out where you are going wrong.
By Matt Lewis, MDXWorks On-Campus / Online, Middlesex University
To receive email notifications of new posts, please use the ‘Follow’ button on the right.
Was this blogpost helpful? Please leave a comment below.