Global Placement Stories | Nathan Lutala at Paperplanes UK as a Junior Operations Developer

Nathan Lutala at Paperplanes UK on his placement year

Nathan Lutala is a current Computer Science student at King’s College London. In this entry of Global Placement Stories, Nathan Lutala talks about his application process in finding a placement opportunities, and delves into his insights and advice for those looking to do the same!

“You should do a placement year.” 

Listening to this advice and acting upon it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken. Not only would you get experience, but also partake in the professional recruitment process, learn more about working in your desired industry and get a much-needed break from your studies! 

My Experience Applying to Placement Opportunities 

I was mainly looking for software developer and software engineering roles (internships and placements), and the more I applied, the more I realised how competitive the recruitment process is. Knowing this motivated me to do more coding problems on HackerRank and LeetCode to prepare me for technical interviews. I noticed that I was slowly improving and progressing. But as the August deadline to secure a placement was rapidly approaching, I thought of giving up and going into my final year, not only studying to complete the degree programme but also making much better projects that would look impressive on my CV. 

Little did I know that my luck would begin to change, and my third year would look different from what I expected… 

A few days before the deadline, the last company I interviewed with (Paperplanes Global Limited) reached out to me and offered me a role as a Junior Operations Developer. Although it wasn’t exactly the role I was initially searching for, I accepted the offer with an open mind, knowing I would learn a lot in this role. Not taking this opportunity with both hands would’ve been very foolish. 

So far in my role, I’ve been applying and building on the SQL and JavaScript knowledge I learnt at university and my newfound knowledge of C# and XML in a real-life setting to send direct mail to our client’s customers. I also learnt how to use GIMP to edit the design of letters sent to us by our clients to prepare them for personalisation and dynamic content (e.g. names, addresses and even some of the products a customer looked at during their time on the online store). There’s still much more to learn and experience, which is very exciting! 

My Advice for Candidates During the Recruitment Process 

What helped me secure this placement was: having a decent CV and cover letter (which I thank the Global Placements team for) – which got me to many interviews, and good interview preparation (ensure that you know about what the company does and; practice, practice, practice). After an interview, ensure you send a follow-up email. Stay proactive! 

My Advice for People Considering Doing a Placement 

To those considering whether to do a placement: go for it. There isn’t much to lose, but a lot to gain from the experience and projects you’ll do, as well as all the great people you’ll meet. It’s also a good way of testing whether you’ll enjoy working in that role after you graduate. Even if you don’t want to do a placement, I recommend securing an internship during the summer, as it will prove to be equally invaluable.