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During my time at BMW I didn’t just feel like a placement student, I was like any full time employee with a real job and a role to play within my team.

More about Ross

As part of my BA (Hons) Business Management and Economics degree at Nottingham Business School I completed a one year work placement which I secured at BMW.

I arranged an appointment with a Careers Consultant within the Employability Team. This was a great opportunity to receive feedback on the progress I had already made with my CV and to get advice on how to progress it further. I knew that a well written CV was the benchmark for starting applications.

There is no doubt that the recruitment process for placements is challenging, particularly when applying to large companies. Probably the most challenging aspect was managing the various stages of multiple applications alongside my university work. Applying for placements felt like a module in itself! For example, for the majority of applications I completed, I initially had to complete a set of online questions. Following this, I was asked to take part in numerical and verbal reasoning tests. After this stage followed a telephone interview, before finally being invited to an assessment centre. The main thing I learnt when applying for placements was to have patience, both in terms of receiving feedback and in the overall process.

Shortly after starting my placement year, I received a phone call from my placement supervisor to check that I was settling in and didn’t have any issues. My placement supervisor visited me in the second half of my placement to check on my progress. He also met with my manager to see how BMW felt I was progressing and to ensure I was on some form of a development plan.

For me, the best part of my placement was the level of responsibility I was given. I was part of a team of four who trusted me with real responsibilities and involved me in important decisions made by the team. Furthermore, through working at the BMW PGA Championship and Goodwood Festival of Speed, I was able to represent the brand and had the opportunity to meet the global CEO of BMW, Harald Kruger.

Whilst there weren’t specific theories I had learnt that I could apply in the workplace, I was able to apply time management skills through managing my workload in first and second year, and my overall ability to be able to critically analyse.

My first piece of advice would simply be to go on a placement. The experience you gain is invaluable and makes your time spent at university a more complete journey. Whilst on placement you are able to see how a real business works and compare this to your studies. When you return to university in final year you have ample examples and experiences to call upon which allows you to make more sense of what you are studying. In addition, the skills you have gained and the networks established are also incredibly valuable when it comes to securing a role after graduating.

In terms of the application process, my advice would be to start researching early. I was lucky in that I had an idea of the specific industry I wanted to work in and so was able to stay up to date with developments in this industry over the summer after completing my first year. Ultimately, the more you know about the company you are applying to and the area they operate in, the better. That’s not to say you should learn all their financial figures for the previous year, but it is about showing that you are generally interested in the company and have done some prior research. Furthermore, the application process for a lot of roles with large companies tend to open very early on in your second year, so the sooner you start researching, the more prepared you will be.

I have now secured a place on BMW UK’s programme known as SpeedUp. This scheme aims to bring former placement students back into a full-time role with the company once they have completed their university studies. As this scheme is only open to existing placement students, my time spent with BMW was obviously paramount in securing a place.

My placement year was almost a year-long interview where I had the chance to demonstrate and develop my skills, culminating in a final assessment centre at the end of the year. Whilst I do not yet know the potential role I may be doing, it is great to know that BMW will actively support me in returning to the company. I have already been back to the company twice during my final year to stay up to date with the company activities and to expand my network ready for when I look to return after graduation. The fact there was a financial reward for securing a place on the programme was also a bonus!

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