Vianna Renaud, Placement Development Advisor presenting at the annual ASET Conference

It is with honour that I delivered a session on Placement PAL at the annual ASET Conference last week at the vianna-aset-presentationUniversity of York. With over 170 delegates representing 150 HE institutions from the UK, Ireland and Australia, this was a perfect opportunity to discuss current themes and trends in the sector. Entitled “Enhancing the Experience, Supporting the Student”, topics included BME attainment and the challenges for employability, tertiary education and a critical caring space to empower learners, their families and communities, the employability edge, and the impact of BREXIT amongst many others. One of the key concerns on the horizon is that of the Apprenticeship Levy which will go into effect next year. As this could very well impact the number of sandwich placements offered in industry, this will certainly be an area to watch.

From my session and resulting discussions, it became clear that BU is a leader in the sector as we are one of the few institutions with a Placement PAL scheme. With three delegates contacting me for further information for implementation at their campuses, it is wonderful to see that this area of student support is growing.

For more information on work based and placement learning:

Cecilie Conradsen, BAPR student on sandwich placement at BeautySeen PR

Placement Job Title: Press Assistant

Cec Conradson

Originally from: Fleet, Hampshire

Company Website –

LinkedIn Profile –

What are you most proud of this year?

Being given a £10,000 project for one of our biggest clients, TRESemme, to manage completely by myself. It was great to be involved in the whole process, from initial ideas to the final execution. I then got to meet a lot of the Beauty Directors and Editors at key media titles to pitch the final product to them.

Has this experience impacted how and what you see in your future?

Yes – this year I have thoroughly enjoyed all copywriting related tasks and  have unearthed a real desire for a career in writing. I think the PR course at Bournemouth is excellent as it is so broad and has taught me a lot of transferable skills, but my placement year has made me realise PR is not the career for me and that writing is what I’m most passionate about.

Any advice you would give other students wanting to find a placement?

Apply to as many places as you can but also don’t be afraid to take an unpaid placement if it is in an industry/sector you are really interested in and would like to pursue a career in.

What are your plans for the rest of the summer before you come back for final year?

I am hoping to get more experience in copywriting and have applied for internships at several publications, including Condé Nast. I am keen to apply for their Graduate Scheme when I finish at Bournemouth and feel this will be an excellent way to ‘get my foot in the door’.

Have you always wanted to do a sandwich placement during your academic course?

Yes and this is part of the reason I chose Bournemouth University as most of the courses they offer include a compulsory placement year. I think it is so important to do a placement year as, for many employers, a degree is not enough – they want you to have relevant experience. A placement year also helps give you a sense of what you want from your future career and makes you consider pathways you wouldn’t originally have thought of.

Do you think this experience has impacted your future employability?

Definitely, I now have a huge set of transferable skills and a great list of contacts across different companies and sectors. I now also have plenty of relevant experience on my CV (before I had only worked in bar jobs) and a portfolio of work to show to potential employers.

How was it being in the ‘real world’?

At first I found the commute and hours really difficult, but after a while you get used to it and now I quite like having a more set routine. It is also nice to have the weekend completely to yourself, and not having to do any work over it. I also think I have been lucky with Beauty Seen, as it is a very fun office, which makes a big difference when you’re coming to work there every day.

Feedback from the supervisor: Darren Hewitt-McLaren, Senior Account Executive

What was it like having a placement student on your team?

Beauty Seen couldn’t function properly without interns and having a placement student on the team is always such a tremendous help. It’s amazing to see how much they grow in their year here and I’m always really proud of how much they achieve.

Samuel Benjamin, BAMC student on sandwich placement in Spain

What has been your highlight of the year?Sam 1

After a year of so many highs it is difficult to pick one out, however I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a company paid trip to Ibiza for hitting monthly targets, which was amazing. Most of the employees went and we had a great time! Another huge high was when we recently hit 2 million users, as when I came we’d only just hit 1 million, so to be apart of acquiring over 1 million users was really something special.

Has this experience impacted how and what you see in your future?

I always had the idea that I would go out on my own and start my own business at some point. So working closely with the founders of a start-up growing at a rapid rate has really highlighted all the pro’s and con’s to this. I can honestly say it has definitely pushed further my desire to start my own business.

How did you find the support from the University?

The university were fantastic, after 4 months I switched from one placement to Xceed. During this period I was really stressed about getting a new job but BU were great with helping me out; the Faculty Placements Team and the Erasmus team all helped so much.

Any advice you would give other students wanting to find a placement?

  • Get on top of it asap, but don’t think you have to put hours in everyday. Do an hour or so here and there, and you will be fine.
  • I would highly recommend going abroad as you will learn so much (the weather tends to be better too).
  • Once you have one, the pressure is gone but don’t stop looking as you may want to get additional experience after your official placement ends.

What are your plans for the rest of the summer before you come back for final year?

I’m moving back from Barcelona and working in London for a month before heading out to South East Asia for a few weeks to relax before final year.

Do you think this experience has impacted your future employability?

Definitely! Having the opportunity to work in 2 young growing companies in Barcelona has been great, I’ve learned loads & furthered my CV dramatically. My employers have also given me help with my CV, as well as a number of recommendations to take to future employers!

How was it being in the ‘real world’?

At times it has been tricky. I’ve worked from a young age anyway so I’m used to the hours/workload but sometimes when the 6am alarm went off it seemed like a real mission to get through the day. But on the whole I found that as long as I maintained a structure it was fine.

Have you been able to identify what you need to do now to continue to improve your employability?

Yes, this year has helped me to understand what I’m good at as well as the areas I need to improve on. So over the next year I’m going to try and put a lot of work into the areas that need improving. Hopefully come graduation time I’ll have rectified my weak areas.

Feedback from the Supervisor, Mattia Franco

Do you feel that an international experience is important to today’s graduate looking to begin their career?


Which 3 elements do you expect to see on a CV for a student wanting to work for you?

  1. Clarity and ability to summarize in an elegant way his/her skills and background
  2. Presence of some technical skills related to his/her proposed job position
  3. Interesting experiences that show entrepreneurship and curiosity for things (aka proactiveness)Sam 2


Company: Xceed :

Sally Crosthwaite from BACOM on sandwich placement at Xerox

1. Where are you from? BACOM Sally Crosthwaite Level P 2015 - 2016 Photo in Prague
Long Itchington, Warwickshire

2. Why did you decide to come to BU?
Loved the uni when I visited it and my course was perfect for me.

3. What is your job title?
Internal Communications Executive for the Marketing and Communications Europe division, Xerox

4. Why did you choose this particular work placement?
The role suited all my requirements and the social scene at Xerox is amazing.

5. How do you feel this ties into your course?
It suits my course perfectly, everything I do in my role links to different modules at Uni.

6. What advice would you give to anyone considering a work placement as part of their course?
Apply as early as you can and to as many possible places. You can never apply to too many!

7. 3 words to sum up your placement
Fantastic, memorable, beneficial!BACOM Sally Crosthwaite Level P 2015 - 2016 Photo cycling company event


Mariah Kalidas on sandwich placement at Carswell Gould in Southampton

Name: Mariah KalidasMariah

Course: Public Relations

Job role: Junior Account Exec

Company: Carswell Gould


As Junior Account Exec at Carswell Gould, I was expected to support on all PR activities from writing press releases to media monitoring and social media scheduling. My primary responsibility was to be proactive in research, content creation and maintain a first class service for all clients.

Has this experience impacted how and what you see in your future?

Placement year has opened my eyes to the breadth of PR and I have definitely decided where I see myself in the future. I discovered my strengths and weaknesses, which have helped direct the next steps in my career for after I graduate.

Do you think that you know more about yourself as a result of your placement experience?

I’ve learnt so much about myself on placement year that I wasn’t aware of; it’s an experience that exposes how you work with others, deal with challenging situations and manage your workload.

If you could go back in time to when you first started university, would you do anything differently?

I would have done more research into specific organisations I wanted to work for. This would have given me a clearer idea of the type of company I could see myself in and helped my decisions during the application process in second year.  Although, upon greater reflection, through placement year I have figured out where I see myself working in the future.

Any advice you would give other students wanting to find a placement?

I found that it’s important to know what you’re passionate about and where you can see yourself working. It will help you focus your search for a placement and you’ll be able to put more energy into something you are truly passionate about or enjoy doing. Lastly, be confident and be ambitious.

One quote to sum up the whole experience!

“A crucial experience that will improve your employability and your future.”

Feedback from the Placement Supervisor (and BU BAPR Alum) – Niall Malone at The Football Foundation

  1.  How long have you been accepting placement students from BU, and how many do you usually employ each year?
    The Football Foundation’s placement year scheme started in 2010 and since then the organisation has recruited several BU grads.

    2.    What sort of roles are available at your company as placements?
    The Football Foundation’s Communications Team takes two placement students every year.

    3.    What is it about offering placements to BU students that appeals to you?
    As a former BU student myself I’ll have to remove any bias here (!) but on the whole they tend to be an industrious and innovative bunch.

    4.    Are there any skills/attributes that particularly impress you about the students you take on?
    They are personable and have a real willingness to learn.

    5.    Why do you think work placements are a valuable part of a degree course?
    Placements are valuable because they marry an undergrad’s theory studies with practical work experience. Ultimately the 12 months spent in industry increase a student’s chance of employment on graduation exponentially.

    6.    When you’re hiring for permanent positions, what would you say makes a graduate stand out?
    Well researched answers in their interview, evidence of other shorter-term internships and a portfolio of  work which might include previous press releases and articles that they have written.

    Niall Malone, Communications Manager and BU BAPR graduate

MAMC Li Dang – My homeland return for my placement with a slightly different ‘ME’

For my thirty-week placement, I used to think that it would feel like a long time but in a blink, I find myself now preparing for the last weeks of my placement with a heavy weight carried on my shoulders.MAMC Li Dang Level P 2015 - 2016  1 photo

The decision on securing a placement in Vietnam was made after a period of careful thoughts and discussion. I knew that it had been a year since I left Vietnam and so it would be nice to be home and therefore, a good decision. Even though after taking this decision led me to have to refuse other exciting opportunities in the UK, I do not regret my decision. Now, after the majority of my placement has passed, my decision has proved to be the best one as I have had a wonderful time with VIETGUYS, a local mobile marketing solutions agency.

Even though my previous work experience included working for IBM Vietnam, I realised that working in a small organisation brought both challenges and opportunities. While being in a big corporation, everything seemed to be more structured as there were established roles and subsequent ways of doing something. In VIETGUYS, I have found it to be the opposite as I have had to manage a considerable number of tasks in various situations and even “roles” within a limited time. At the very beginning I was not used to this company culture, and just completed tasks given to me, following what my supervisor required. Thus, sometimes, I had quite a lot of spare time and could not understand why my other colleagues had so many things to deal with. To me, my first week was full of observation and I felt that my placement might be bad as I truly felt like an outsider. However, the next day when I took the initiative and asked for more work, things became incredibly exciting. I very quickly learned that in this new environment and this new way of working, I was going to have so much to learn, I couldn’t possibly do it all!

My position requires me to work with salespeople, contact clients and report directly to my supervisor who is a business director. Therefore, in this role I am the link between my supervisor and sales team, or the salesperson and the client, so it is never a dull moment as every situation can be different. There have been some situations which have required me to satisfy demands from both sides, clearly with their own reasons.  This has significantly impacted my other tasks in terms of time, efficiency and energy. So, in moving forward, I tried to identify solutions. I was successful after presenting my opinions and solution to my supervisor as well as other salespeople in both formal and informal meetings. For example, I presented the idea of creating a table describing an order of required actions customised for each salesperson on a week by week basis. My goal was to improve the work flow, save time, thereby increasing efficiency. After one trial week, the main issues had been resolved and everyone was pleased with the progress.

VIETGUYS has provided me the chance to work with lots of clever young people who are resourceful, creative with multitask skills and technical skills, and the ability of dealing matters on limited budget. I can say that I have not only enjoyed my placement, through my experience I have been able to increase my professional network. My supervisor and colleagues have been wonderful as they have always known how to cheer others up and keep staff morale high, how to balance work with life, and how to develop others’ abilities with straight feedback. I believe that through my personal and professional development achieved during my placement, I have made great progress towards my future career endeavors.

I have also learned plenty of other valuable lessons which has helped me become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. While I will soon leave, I know that I will miss both the team and office of VIETGUYS. I have learned firsthand that real experience is precious and necessary, particularly when thinking about your future. Getting out of your comfort zone to explore and experience the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world is important and definitely important in today’s world.


How I found my sandwich placement – James Thompson on BA Advertising


Initially when I started looking for my placement back in December 2014, I was sending out generic emails that showed no personality – likewise on my CV, just grades and irrelevant work experience. This then led to a situation where by July of 2015 I still had not secured anything.

Despite doing many interviews and a few assessment days at big companies/agencies I found that I was always overshadowed by someone with some impressive work or had more experience. This was the time, in July 2015 that I decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself I was going to start being proactive and give myself something to help me stand out. It needed to be something not only to impress – but also to be proud of.

There were 2 things then that I needed to really get the best out of my placement year (and to get a placement):
1.    Something to make me stand out on my CV
2.    Experience

I desperately needed something to make my CV stand out – so I rekindled a dream of mine from first year in manufacturing and selling my own skateboards for a small profit. I went through the legal processes with HM Revenue & Customs and I am now the proud Owner and Founder of Marquis Skateboards as a Sole Trader. I have a couple of prototypes I have made however I have not begun going fully into production yet. I have set up the digital framework I need to jump into it once I can start making the boards (I need reliable sunny weather to make them outside … clearly the UK is a great place to do that…). This alone made me suddenly way more interesting and more of a personality when my future employers were reading my CV. (Website in development – for future reference

In terms of experience seeking, I took my sights off London and applied to some really local marketing agencies. With my business on my CV, lo and behold, within a week I was signed on for 2 weeks with an agency 5 minutes from my house called Serious Marketing Ltd – this was quickly extended to 1 month and then another month giving me 2 months of rich experience in Account Management and because the agency was small, I got a lot of responsibility very quickly.

Once my time with Serious Marketing Ltd was coming to an end – a colleague of mine there gave me a recommendation to this site called – on which many start up organisations are seeking interns for short spells of time. I sent out many applications but secretly wanted one much more than the others as it offered detailed SEO training – HouseTrip. Luckily, this was the one that seemed most interested in me as well – and here I am, a month and half later extending my contract at least until the end of January with one of my own created and managed content pieces live which you can see here. Additionally I have 2 more big content pieces I conceived and am managing myself. I already manage myself on a daily basis and have learnt invaluable skills around coding and knowledge regarding SEO.  Not to mention all of the connections I have made in London and the confidence that this has given me to really dive into my own projects. I’m also getting paid!

So my 5 tips would be:
1.    Be proactive
2.    Find something to set yourself apart
3.    Perhaps lower your big city aspirations as a means to obtain experience
4.    Use that experience to obtain those bigger aspirations
5.    Have confidence in your small ideas & make them a reality (in the workplace & outside of it)

James Thompson

SEO Executive at HouseTrip
Undergraduate BA (Hons) Advertising