Written by kdanceydowns
I won’t lie, placement search was probably one of the most stressful times of my degree so far. Fortunately, I didn’t give up that easy and didn’t let the fact that other students had already secured their placements de-motivate or panic me.
Having said that, I didn’t end up securing a placement until the May exam period, which seems very late! They phoned me and asked me to start in 2 weeks. This was great, however the problem was that I had an exam on the day they asked me to start and I didn’t have an apartment sorted. Oh and because it was in Barcelona, my flight wasn’t booked either.
After multiple phone calls and changes in the position offered, I was officially going to begin my Placement at Ritz-Carlton (Hotel Arts Barcelona) in the Sales & Marketing department and although it was very difficult to get to this point, it ended up being one of the best years of my entire life, which taught me a whole world of new things! Many people feel daunted by the idea of moving away to a country where you don’t speak the language or know anybody, but if I survived it, then so can anybody, so here are the five things I learnt while I was on placement:
Don’t worry if you don’t speak the language – I knew Spanish briefly before going to Barcelona, however people are very friendly and always try to help you learn it even if you don’t know it. The one piece of advice I can give is to not rely on speaking English all the time, do your best to learn the language, even if it means saying imaginary words every now and again – people appreciate this and always try to help you.
Get out of your comfort zone – Even if you don’t like some of the activities your colleagues are engaging in, sometimes it’s worth giving it a go (not always of course!). You may end up liking something you didn’t think you did before, and trying something new can be the best way to bond with your new colleagues!
Don’t be afraid to take initiative – Placement students are valuable as we have a world of up-to-date knowledge and we can bring a lot to the table. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your ideas – prove to your employer why they hired you!
Explore – Going abroad is the perfect opportunity to really immerse yourself in the local culture and see new places. I spent every day walking to work and back (10km in total) but I saw some awesome things and places, so take any free time you have to do that, it makes a great ice breaker!
Get involved – If your placement company gives you the opportunity of cross training, or volunteering in another department – DO IT! Even if it is outside of your working hours – DO IT! Even if it is something you aren’t interested in – DO IT! I never wanted to work in sales before my placement, but now it is what I want to do after I graduate. It gives you a chance to prove to your employer that you are indeed hard-working and want to learn no matter how much you may want to watch Game of Thrones snuggled up in bed after a long day at work.
By Preslava Ivanova, BA (Hons) Tourism Management