Sam Jons – Final year, BSc Accounting & Finance (with a professional placement year)
A placement year gives you the opportunity to gain practical experience in topics you learn on your course, with exposure to real-life business challenges, and an understanding of the different tasks people working in your chosen career path do on a day-to-day basis.
I worked for a year in a small finance team within a company called Eurotherm who produce and sell energy management solutions.
Applying for a placement job
Workshops in the University’s Careers and Employability Centre helped prepare me for the interview process: writing good CV’s and personal statements, and how to succeed in assessment centres. The Business School placements team also helped me throughout the placement process.
My placement was listed on CareerHub, and following a Skype interview with the Senior Financial Controller and his Finance Business Partner, I was invited to interview, where I was offered the job and discussed the role further.
Setting my placement objective
My main placement objective was to support different members of the finance team and gain exposure to all parts of the business. I began by learning how to refresh the databases and run weekly reports, distributing revenue and sales figures throughout the business. I was slowly exposed to more work and given more responsibility, including working with outsourced accounts payable and receivable teams, and participating in regular project reviews.
The main highlight was working on a large project involving analysing global revenue, pricing, and discount data for the business’ whole Product Portfolio. I worked closely with several members of senior management to produce detailed analysis, showing trends in certain regions and product categories, enabling them to make key business decisions. I also had the opportunity to present my work several times to senior management.
Over the year I faced several challenges. When I joined the business, it was a steep learning curve, as my Excel knowledge was initially very basic and some of the files and reports I worked on were very complex. Prioritising and managing workflow was also a challenge, often working on several unrelated tasks at once for different members of the team. However, this forced me to learn quickly and I can comfortably say that my Excel and workload management skills grew hugely.
The benefits of a placement year
I would definitely recommend applying for a placement year. When you’re applying for graduate roles, you will be far more employable than your peers that didn’t undertake one.
Furthermore, on returning to university after working in a professional environment for a year, I feel I can relate course theories to real-life work situations much easier, allowing me to better understand key concepts. A placement also gives you the chance to build some useful connections and references for the future.
Becoming a Student Mentor
This year I am a Student Mentor and Ambassador for the Business School, where I look forward to meeting students and offering advice on how to succeed in getting and completing placements, as well as mentoring in Accounting, Finance, and Business-related modules.
I host a drop-in session every Thursday, 12pm-1pm in Jubilee G30. Come along with any questions I might be able to answer for you, or request mentoring with myself or another student mentor.
You can find me on LinkedIn, or you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org