Thursday, 28 February 2013

Guest Article - My Day at the NPIAs

Here is an article written by Dan Garlick, who won a competition to be my guest at the National Placement & Internship Awards. Dan kindly kept a diary of his day and wanted to share his experience of the NPIAs. It was a pleasure to meet him and glad that he enjoyed the event. Hopefully some networking on the day will help him to secure a summer placement later this year in the Financial Sector. Feel free to connect with Dan via LinkedIn if you're recruiting talent. Over to Dan......

07:34 I'm awake, my flatmate is not. He has work at 08:00, but I'm too busy tweeting to move from my bed. If you learn anything from this blog do not buy a Tesco's own iron, it puts more creases in a shirt than you start with. I thought I best wake him, knock on the door, no answer, text him asking if he is getting up for work, reply 'No!' It appears that someone else has the day off work and is not impressed that I woke them, apologies! 

Train is on time, however there's not a place to hang my suit jacket. Lovely spring morning as the train passes the Olympic Park. Off the train at Liverpool Street and head underground to Islington for breakfast with my cousin. Back towards the centre, to St Paul's. I have some time to kill so I visit the Museum of London for an hour and then search for lunch. 

Off to the venue where I meet The Placement Officer who dwarfs me with his sheer height. We get checked in by the RateMyPlacement team, collect our badges and begin to mingle with the other delegates. I'm naturally nervous as I've never been to a networking event but TPO and his university colleagues help to settle the nerves. 

The champagne begins to flow, which loosens the tongue a little and the first business card is handed out. I begin to fend for myself and move away from TPO's shadow and try and network myself. There goes another business card ...

Back into the auditorium for the main event, that everybody was there for. Three top class speakers start the ceremony, with The Apprentice finalist Nick Holzherr concluding with a motivational piece in regards to not giving up. Unfortunately The Placement Officer just missed out on his award, however he should of won it! Definitely a top bloke.

When Dan met The Placement Officer
Bento boxes? Are you aware of these? You get given a wooden oriental style tray and fill it up with food. Genius. After the food the networking continued and I continued to meet new people and gain advice.
Back to Liverpool Street, next stop Ipswich, then bed. 

A massive thanks to The Placement Officer for inviting me and congratulations to the winners and also RMP for hosting a great event! I definitely enjoyed my day in the capital.

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Saturday, 16 February 2013

NPIAs 2013

I spent yesterday afternoon in the company of the great and the good of the placement industry. The National Placement and Internship Awards is Rate My Placement's annual celebration of the work done by employers, universities and students in the field of work experience.

Held at the particularly swanky etc. venue on aldersgate road opposite the museum of London, this was an opportunity to catch up with fellow placement professionals, network with leading placement and graduate recruiters and make face to face introductions with a number of people I've come to know through writing this blog and hosting #placementchat.

The event began with a very interesting presentation from On Campus Promotions, going through the findings of recent research conducted with the student population. This included a section on how employers can put together successful campus marketing campaigns, including a student led critique of advertising from kelloggs, coca-cola and bodyform.

After a break for a glass of champagne (courtesy of drinks sponsor Wikijobs), the event continued with words from the chairs of AGCAS and AGR, before keynote speaker Nick Holzerr (entrepreneur and The Apprentice finalist) entertained the audience with tales from the tv series and trials and tribulations of starting a business.

The awards ceremony itself was slick. University of Birmingham picked up the award for Best Placement or Careers Service, with Andy Newnham being recognised for Outstanding Contribution to Work Experience. Exeter University also received an award for Most Improved Commitment to Employability.

There were a number of awards for students, societies and brand managers, and the ceremony finished off with the employer awards. I'm sworn to secrecy on who received the coveted title of Best Placement or Internship Employer. You'll have to wait for Rate My Placement to publish their Top Employers Guide later on the year.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, particularly being able to put some faces to names I've become accustomed to over the last year. It would have been nice to walk away with an award, but missed out to a thoroughly deserving winner. And I didn't leave completely empty handed, taking home a fantastic slinky!

Thank you Rate My Placement for putting on a great bash. Hope to see you again at the NPIAs in 2014

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A Year Out, Is Worth Two On Your CV

Here is a guest article from Sam Popham-Holloway, a recruiter who writes the excellent GoodGradGuide - make sure you take the time to read his blog and follow Sam on Twitter via @GoodGradGuide

A Year Out, Is Worth Two On Your CV
Add value to you and your CV with a year away from university

Graduates are always told they don’t have enough work experience. Many leave interviews or find their inbox filling with messages akin to “sorry, you just don’t have enough experience compared to the other candidates...” It can become demoralising. It is often not the amount of experience; but the relevant, professional and therefore credible work experience that eludes many graduate CV’s.

Most students can rustle up some cashier work at the nearby supermarket or bar work at the local pub, but how do you accrue experience that sets you apart from your peers and makes employers want to hire you? The Internet is littered with forums of frustrated students/graduates posing what has become the million-dollar question for any ambitious undergraduate; how do I gain credible work experience?

I am keen to pose an often overlooked way of gaining significant work experience, whilst remaining in the safe arms of student life. Have you heard of A Year In Industry? It’s what your really motivated friend probably rambles on about whilst you try to decide just which drinking game is best for that evening. It is something I never considered, because I never knew about the opportunity and Beer Pong was simply too big a distraction. However, I missed a trick and in my job I see many others who would have really benefited from a year’s worth of experience.

A Year In Industry does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives you a year (or typically 8-10 months away from university) in a career of your choice. Most wisely pick an industry/job that relates to their course and future career aspirations. Many students studying languages are often required or opt to spend a Year Aboard, in what is a very similar scheme. This sees them either working, studying at a university or teaching aboard, with the obvious aim to put their language skills to the test and immerse themselves in a foreign culture.

Both options extend your degree by a year, yet, compared to your peers, a year in the workplace or the sunshine gives you a fantastic opportunity to build up an unparalleled level of commercial experience or improve your language skills. When you graduate you already have the best part of a year of work experience and its not going to be in the local supermarket or watering hole.

The list of advantages of postponing your graduation by a year is longer than you think. Spend your year out impressing the socks off your manager and once graduated there is a good chance you will be asked back to join the firm as a proper, full time employee. I have seen it happen. As graduation approaches and the inevitable job search starts, you can sit back rest assured that you are already sorted in what can be one of the most stressful times in your life.

Should they not ask you back, you still have a solid year's experience and normally a handful of great dinner party stories to boot! Only the best graduates will able to compete with you in the work experience stakes, but they never had time to play Ring of Fire. Moreover, your year away from university should further your personal development, particularly if you spend it abroad, polishing your language skills, experiencing new cultures and learning a few life lessons. It can have a positive impact on more than just your CV.

These are just the most notable benefits of opting to spend a year away from university. The Placement Officer is the ideal point of contact to help you find your placement. In this especially tough graduate market, a Year in Industry could prove priceless when it comes to finding a great graduate job! Take a closer look!

By Sam Popham-Holloway from Check it out for chat about articles about graduates and job hunting!

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Monday, 4 February 2013

Guest Post - Preparation overkill

My guest blogger returns with this little story about the dangers of over-preparing for an assessment centre. Just because you think you know it all, doesn't give you a green light for success......

Knowledge is power, use that power carefully..

Picture the scene; you have just been invited to the assessment centre for your dream job and so
you start searching Google, high and low for anything that you can find to prepare you for the day.
Aha, you seem to have struck gold, you find a WikiJobs post detailing everything that happens on
the day, including the questions that will be asked and details of all of the assessment tasks. You pat
yourself on the back, for your most excellent research skills!

You read this information religiously, analysing all of the answers on the WikiJobs post, building
a picture in your head of how the assessment centre will be. You feel confident, memorising your
responses to the questions that you know will be coming up. After all, the post on WikiJobs is
detailed and the original poster has confirmed that they have been successful at this very same
assessment centre.

The day of the assessment centre arrives and it is going well, in fact it is just as you read online; a
couple of individual tasks and a group task. In the group task you know the answer before even
reading the brief and so you recite what you have been practising to the group. Other members of
the group don’t seem to understand, but you push on regardless as clearly you know the correct
answer. You feel good, leading the group, finishing the task early, you must have impressed the
assessors. You feel your preparation has paid off, all the revising and reciting, you know you have
given all the correct answers.

A couple of days later you receive a phone call from the company to let you know that you have
unfortunately been unsuccessful at the assessment centre.

What went wrong here? This is a worrying trend that I have been hearing about recently where
candidates have over prepared, so much so that they have blinded themselves to the reality of an
assessment centre or interview, often they have no idea what went wrong. In the scenario above,
even though the candidate correctly completed all of the tasks at the assessment centre, they
committed the gravest sin of them all; they failed to demonstrate their key competencies.

Because this person was so sure they knew what was coming up they didn't listen to what they were actually asked to do on the day. E.g. in the group task, all focus was on going for the right answer. The recruiters weren't necessarily looking for this; they wanted to see how you work together with the group to achieve a shared goal.

Preparation is vital to achieve success in interviews or assessment centres. Just be careful not to take your eye off the ball and allow your eagerness to impress cause you to miss the point of the task.

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