William O’Brien is a Chemistry student who completed their placement at Lloyds Banking Group. Read more to find out his top tips when applying for placements and why you should try to get industry experience.
Tips for the application process
This really became my life. Any spare time around my studies I was on LinkedIn, Indeed, ratemyplacement, brightnetwork etc. looking at placements and saving them so I could apply when I had more time. I knew I would face a lot of rejection but that is part of the process and you have to own that and learn from it. Every minute you put in is only working in your favour.
1. Just be yourself! At the end of the day, you are a human and aren’t expected to give robotic answers. Most interviewers are looking for a genuine response as opposed to a pre-learnt one and it will shine through. I also found when talking about situations and my skills, I could convey this easier if I was passionate about the subject. Soft skills are just as important as hard skills and may even set you apart!
2. Read up on their corporate strategy and really get a feel for their culture. This really shows your willingness to join their company and the motivations you have. Even grab some figures to show you’ve done your research and really impress the interviewer with the depth of knowledge.
3. Practice and dress for the occasion. I made sure I had questions phrased differently for each competency-based question so the wording wouldn’t trip me up and I rehearsed in all settings to make sure I was comfortable. Regardless of lockdown, still, fully dress up to improve confidence.
Why doing a Placement is worthwhile
I think that I’ve got my foot half in the door which will be invaluable experience moving forward. If that is moving forward with Lloyds or going in another direction remains to be seen. Nonetheless, I have financial experience which is unrelated to my degree (chemistry) but has helped me determine my career path.
What I gained from my placement
I have learnt to let go of my doubts. When talking to my bosses and telling them how it is when initially I was scared, I’ve really found my voice. I’ve learnt so much about the financial industry especially as I had no real prior knowledge. Not only have my interpersonal skills improved but also my hard skills such as Excel, SAS, Python, Power bi and Merit.