Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Importance of being Earnest

Read Della Massey's post on what she thinks is important when applying for graduate placements.

So, there I am, trotting into my first ‘Skills for Placement Search’ seminar, armed with my pen and paper: ready to take on advice from my Business tutors on how I, THE most employable student ever was going to make myself look even more attractive to bosses than I already was. I hadn’t actually applied for any placements yet, but there was no need to rush. As soon as I handed out my CV I would have them all queuing up to employ me!

After a couple of weeks of doing this I decided it was time to unleash my shining applications onto those unsuspecting employers. So I sat in front of my computer for two days, writing the sterling words that I knew would win me a spot on the highly prestigious, and sought after, investment banking placement scheme. My glowing application was finally ready to wow the whole of the bank... I could already hear the sounds of applause I would have as I walked through the building for my inevitable interview. Submit. “Thank you for your application. Please follow this link to reach our numerical and logical reasoning tests”. Tests? I don’t need any tests!! But to apply, I had to complete them. So I started the 18 minutes and finished in 6. Brilliant. Now I just have to sit back and wait for the calls to roll in. The first e-mail I received came back to me within minutes: I had obviously underestimated how amazing I was!!

But that e-mail wasn’t amazing. Obviously, I wasn’t quite as ignorant as I have portrayed, but it still hit me pretty hard when I got my first rejection e-mail. I remember the thing that upset me the most was that because I hadn’t scored highly enough in the tests they hadn’t even read my application; though already I was deemed unsuitable. The whole experience of my first, almost automatic rejection really brought me back down to earth with a thud. Though I must have landed on a trampoline or something as I decided I would try my best and spend another two days applying for another bank, which I would almost certainly be rejected from as I didn’t have the knowledge to complete their tests. And rejected I was! I just remember being so distraught, as my mind for a long time had been set on doing this sort of placement - I even had an image of how my life would be from there on! I just found it insulting that I had been told by an automated e-mail that I wasn’t good enough for something I had planned so well in my head.

For a long time I went quiet on the placement search: trying to re-evaluate what I wanted to do as for me, placements are for getting vital experience in an industry that I would like to pursue a career in. I found that really studying my skills and strengths allowed me to choose a sector that I know I will enjoy working in, rather than shaping myself to conform to some good idea I had three years ago.

In doing this, I decided a career in PR (Public Relations) or HR would be best suited to me.  So in light of this, I applied for several roles which would be doing things I was far more suited to, and actually have since managed to secure a 2nd interview for a job that I would be really enthusiastic to work in. And the best part is that I didn’t have to pretend or talk myself up to make me look employable to them – just goes to show the importance of being yourself.

Overall, my experience through this has shown me that no matter how many times someone tells you to “keep going” and “don’t let rejection get you down”, it doesn’t really mean anything until it happens to you. And when it does, I think it’s really important to stay positive and ensure that you are happy in yourself with the decisions you are making, otherwise employers will see right through the bravado and realise that your heart is not in it. Obviously, you may have not made my mistake and have already chosen something which suits your skills best; though I think that my position highlights the importance of being sure in yourself to help you handle the rejection that you may find along the way: giving you the ability to know whether a placement is right for you. I could have handled my situation much better than I did – and I hope that I have given useful information to other students about how to (or how not to!!) handle the first stages of your placement search.

Find Della on Twitter: @DellaMassey

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