Entries by Mariana

Tips to help find a work placement – from a University of Surrey Placement Student!

Mariana Cosme Ribeiro 

Cressive DX’s Digital Marketing Year 3 placement student from the University of Surrey, Business Management course. 

Finding a work placement can be a long, daunting, time consuming process but it is definitely worth it. As a student myself that has been through the whole process and I can admit that it is not an easy task. But you can improve your chances, or simply make the process easier, using these proven ideas. 

Here are steps I recommend you follow to successfully secure a digital marketing internship.

BTW, This isn’t just for work placements with Cressive DX, based at the Surrey Technology Centre, but they do offer excellent Masters placements for a year following the course at the local Surrey Uni, and also vocational placements between your second and final year of study at university, for those who want to specialise in SEO or digital marketing. From what I know Cressive DX offers an unrivalled experience in the latest SEO for global brands such as Nestle and Abbott, so I’ve used Cressive DX as the example company here to illustrate the actions and advice.

Mariana Cosme Ribeiro 

Cressive DX’s digital marketing Year 3 placement student from the University of Surrey, Business Management course.  

Finding a work placement can be a long, daunting, time consuming process but it is definitely worth it. As a student myself that has been through the whole process and I can admit that it is not an easy task. But you can improve your chances, or simply make the process easier, using these proven ideas. 


Here are steps I recommend you follow to successfully secure a digital marketing internship.

BTW, This isn’t just for work placements with Cressive DX, based at the Surrey Technology Centre, but they do offer excellent Masters placements for a year following the course at the local Surrey Uni, and also vocational placements between your second and final year of study at university, for those who want to specialise in SEO or digital marketing. From what I know Cressive DX offers an unrivalled experience in the latest SEO for global brands such as Nestle and Abbott, so I’ve used Cressive DX as the example company here to illustrate the actions and advice.

Before the steps, a quick overview for Year 3 placements:

WHO = Year 3 placement students from Surrey University.

WHAT = The Yr 3 placement ‘year’ is normally 10-11 months.

WHEN = Normally the placement starts June or July at the end of year 2, but this can be flexible around your plans.

WHERE = Hybrid, based in part in the office, Surrey Technology Centre, and from home.

HOW = A full-time role, working with the expert team.

WHY = To learn the reality of digital marketing in a fast paced professional work-place.

 

And, a similar quick overview for Masters (post-grad.) placements :

WHO = Masters course graduates from Surrey University

WHAT = For 12 months following course requirements

WHEN = Normally the placement starts September but can be flexible, and can preceded by a summer consulting placement (which can be part-time)

WHERE = Hybrid, based in part in the office, Surrey Technology Centre, and from home

HOW = As a full-time role, working with the expert team

WHY = To learn the reality of advanced global digital marketing with a leading firm;

Step 1 : Get ready in advance!

Start early in the academic year, I recommend around October, when preparation for placement applications is beneficial since it is still calm in terms of exams and deadlines and you will need to balance your time between studies and applications.

Cressive’s advice is to send CV early in January. You can still send your CV in up to March, and by April usually Cressive has a placement student chosen.

Make sure to:

  • Attend University of Surrey support and guidance seminars – do not jump in sending CVs without research (/Resumes. NB CV is used more often than the word Resume in the UK).
  • Take advantage of the support that the university offers (seminars, meetings, cv & cover letter guidance & feedback and mock interviews). Book a meeting with personal and senior tutors for extra guidance and feedback on your CV and cover letter, at https://pathfinder.surrey.ac.uk/student/appointments.html?execution=e1s1 

TOP TIP: Try to keep a one-page CV (max 2), and avoid too much information, particularly subjective and instead focus on objective achievements of success, and highlight specific experiences of digital marketing or similar skills. And focus on achievements, what you accomplished from each experience.

Step 2 : Finding a student work placement

I was just about to take a break from applying, as I was feeling demotivated after receiving several “no”, when I came across a great opportunity to work with Cressive DX. In my case, Surrey Pathfinder was my best friend when looking for opportunities but don’t be afraid to look somewhere else. The local Surrey Search Research Park has a jobs board which can have placements (or even help you find a company you might be interested in to which you can make a speculative application). Search on LinkedIn and Indeed but apply via the company site.

Make sure to:

TOP TIP: Attend university careers fairs – it is a great opportunity to speak with the employees of a company. Read more at https://www.surrey.ac.uk/employability-and-careers/students/careers-fairs-and-workshops

Step 3 : Research, research, research! 

So you’ve found what looks like a good role. Make sure it is the company right for you: ask yourself is there a match between the role and your skill set? Ask yourself what you can offer the company, and to do this you should research online about the company, the people, the clients, and find out as much as you can.

Key areas to consider when researching:

  • What are the company values and goals.
  • What is their culture, history and key business areas.
  • What clients do they have?
  • Do they have information on past placements, and what the placement role typically is or does?

TOP TIP: Ask questions to the brand ambassador on campus. Search on LinkedIn “brand ambassador at Cressive DX” https://www.linkedin.com/search/results/people/?keywords=brand%20ambassador%20at%20cressive%20dx&origin=GLOBAL_SEARCH_HEADER&sid=GiM

Step 4 : Applying for the work placement

A good application stands out. A poor application stands out.

Tailor your CV and cover letter to the role and key skills mentioned in the job description, and to what you’ve learned about the company. Stress and highlight what it is about your research findings that appeals to you and prompted your application.

Sell yourself but be honest. Put yourself in the role and think ahead to what value you bring to the role, and put yourself in the company’s shoes as they hear what you have to say. You are not expected to know everything so do not pretend to do so. A clear articulation of what you do know will be much more valuable than a jazzed-up misrepresentation of who you are.

Key elements to consider:

  • Timing when to apply – usually companies have a closing date for applications. Create an Excel sheet and calendar notifications to keep organised. 
  • Dear Sir/Madam (if name is not possible) when writing your cover letter or email
  • Convert CV into pdf 
  • Include Subject line “e.g. Mariana Ribeiro Application for 3rd year Digital Marketing/SEO placement”

TOP TIP: craft your application email and customise it to the company, the role and the person you are contacting – finding out the name of a person you can address directly if possible and make your email introduction an indication of who you are.

DO NOT APPLY LIKE THIS – it indicates little or no effort in application (however many you are sending!):

Step 5 : Practice your interview

Practice aptitude tests (numerical and logical) are good preparation. Or even practise with friends who could be looking at the same time for their own placements. There are plenty of free exams online and also most companies have their own set of practice tests. 

TOP TIP: when practising track time and keep it to the real conditions of an exam.

Step 6 : Interview stage

Interviews can be nerve-wracking but there are some things you should never forget to do. And, if the company is right for you then you’ll find they help you relax and encourage you to be calm and take your time in explaining your skills and experience. Remember it is their time too so they want to use it to find out the best about you, even if the fit ultimately isn’t right for you both.

Make sure that:

  • If you have a video interview, turn the camera on (NB Make sure the internet is working and you know how to work with Zoom/Teams, or the conference tool used by the company you’re applying to). 
  • A job interview calls for you to wear professional outfits. In doubt, dress up! Overdressing is normally less of a concern than underdressing. 
  • Go well prepared – read about the company and the role! 
  • Be confident and honest (recruiters can usually tell if you are lying).
  • Always ask questions when it is your turn, have questions prepared, or respond to subjects covered in the interview to show you can respond to the flow of a conversation.
  • Tell a story, use the STAR technique when answering questions. STAR is an acronym for: 

Situation, Task, Action, Result. Read more at https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-is-the-star-interview-response-technique-2061629 

  • If you’re going to take notes it’s a good idea to ask the interviewer if that is OK (so they know what you are doing, ie. not Wordle, and in case any of the subject matter is confidential).

TOP TIPS: Turn your camera on and do not hide. Get ready to answer, “Why do you want this job?”

Step 7 : After the interview – is really only just the start!

Reflect on your conversation and make more notes. Weigh up what went well and what didn’t – what you liked and what you didn’t. If you are keen on the company and the role but you felt there was an area of weakness in your experience – or just how the interview went – think how you might address this point and explain or offer something to help make up for it.

Show interest if you are keen, don’t wait to be contacted first. Show your interest. Send a follow up email after the interview, and include more questions on the role or the company. Being proactive yet applying critical thinking will likely be seen as a bonus.

  • Be patient, answers can take some time. Companies can be very busy but anything more than a couple of weeks (unless they’ve told you timings) might be a concern, and there’s no harm to follow up proactively with a courteous email.

TOP TIP: Remote working tips. Make sure to create a relationship with your colleagues. Take coffee breaks, make sure you keep active and walk. Have all the conditions to work from home, get your own mini office: good lighting, calm space, good chair and table. 

And if there was one overall tip my advice would be “Don’t give up!” In your work placement year you will attain and improve so many skills, and gain so much knowledge that you won’t during your university degree. It will be worth it. The more you put in the more you will learn and get out of the experience, with many events you’ll learn from (and can quote in future interviews if nothing else).

If you are interested in work experience with Cressive DX, please send your application to jobs@cressive.com – using all the above advice!

And if you have any other tips or ideas please email us to share, and we can add your experience here to benefit others in the future.

Mariana Cosme Ribeiro

 

Other good resources to help you in finding the perfect placement: