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Isabelle McMullan


United Kingdom
My placement has better prepared me with my graduate job search as I have developed so many more skills

More about Isabelle

Employer name: Deutsche Telekom Global Business Solutions UK Ltd

Job title: Business Intern

How did you find / source your placement?

I found it via InPlace, the NTU site for employers to advertise their vacancies. InPlace was not the only website I applied to, but I was lucky to get a role that the university had approved. I started my placement search in September and I was offered the role in March, so it was a long process and I had applied to over 20 placements by the time I was offered this one.

What was the recruitment process like for this role?

I had a straightforward recruitment process for this role. I initially sent a placement and cover letter and was then asked to have a phone interview. I had an informal conversation with two members of the company, with the aim to promote myself further than the cover letter allows. I was successful and then completed a virtual interview with the manager of the role (this was during the pandemic so I could not have a face-to-face interview). They asked many situational questions and I asked to give examples of when I had used key skills in previous situations. I was then offered the job via a phone call two days later.

Did you get support from the Employability team during your search for this role? If yes, what support did you get and how did it help you?

I set up a virtual meeting with the Employability team to discuss my CV and cover letter before I started applying. This was really useful as I was able to improve my CV in less than an hour. I'm glad this meeting took place before I started applying as I believe it gave me a much greater chance of success.

What new skills and practices are you learning / have you learned from your work experience placement?

I have learned a huge range of skills, some of which I would not have expected. Communication within a workplace is much more different to contact within a university and I found that simple skills such as writing an email have vastly improved. I have been given leadership positions in my role and been able to develop skills of leading and organising colleagues of all ages and nationalities.

My main role sits within operations, but I have had the opportunity to also get involved with sales, HR, finance, and IT, which has given me a huge range of skills and understanding of a business I did not start with, as I come from a psychology background.

What effect has the pandemic had on you and your placement, and how have you adapted your thought process / planning accordingly?

The pandemic has meant I have had less interaction with colleagues than previous interns, as most people work from home. This ethos has continued even as regulations have been relaxed. At first, I found this hard as all my meetings are virtual and it is harder to feel part of the work community when I have not met most of my colleagues. However, I have found over time I have become much more comfortable using Teams or Webex. I make the effort to have general conversations and jokes within meetings that creates a sense of community, even if it is distanced.

How do you think your placement will help prepare you for your graduate job/job search?

I have developed so many more skills and I can now demonstrate my abilities within both an academic and a business environment. It has prepared me for how to write an effective cover letter and CV and given me the experience of having interviews. I was unsure which direction I wanted to take with my career after university, but my placement has made me consider a career direction I had never even considered before this experience.

What advice would you give to NTU students applying for placements this year?

Start looking for placements early. The more you apply for, the more likely you are to get one. I would also recommend being broad with your search as placements are for experience rather than the career you want. I was initially less interested in the placement I was offered than others I applied for, but now love my job and am glad I chose it.  Make the most out of your placement and take all the opportunities offered to you, as you will only have this experience once and it goes by incredibly fast.

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