Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Having Your Sandwich and Eating It; a Business Students Guide to Securing a Placement

Many sandwich degree students can secure a placement through their universities dedicated placement office. The placement year is a very valuable experience, particularly if the student hasn't had much experience of work before. At university even having a part time job can help students understand their studies better. Whilst many students find their placement year a positive experience, their may be a small minority who feel they had an unconstructive placement.

Job Fair's
Although a universities placement office can provide invaluable advice, support and a number of contacts, students have a better chance of securing a good quality placement if they were to be proactive in independently seeking a placement. When attending Job fairs, students should ensure they take with them an ample number of CV's and covering letters. One advantage of job fairs is that students may have the opportunity to apply for those companies which are advertising more than one job. The content of the majority of students CV's is often very similar. Students should use two pages when writing their C.V and never have half pages. Business students shouldn't use any pictures or colour and most importantly never lie. Students can create two main types of cover letter and C.V's:
2. A targeted cover letter for a particular company and/or job role.
If a student attends a job fair taking place at their university, the organisers (whether the university placements office or Job shop) will certainly know what companies will be attending. It is prudent for students to find out not only what companies will be attending, but also what job roles are going to be promoted and by which companies. The organiser's may even have job descriptions for specific job roles. With this information, students can target their covering letter and C.V's towards those specific jobs which they wish to apply.
That makes it difficult for students to target their covering letter and C.V, but not impossible. Students will create a more positive impression if they are knowledgeable about an organisation and the sector in which they operate.
Students should also consider at Job fairs (particularly large ones), what type of job they want (.e.g. Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, Sales etc) - and target their C.V and covering letter accordingly. Students should note however that in most jobs there is always a large overlap between these areas of work.
Salary range of a placement student
A placement student's salary is usually lower than that of graduate salaries for the type of work undertaken. However a minority student may secure jobs with significantly higher salaries (up to around £22,000).
Students applying for a job should be cautious when attempting to negotiate their salary. The only time it would be appropriate to negotiate a salary, is if a student was offered two jobs, and needed to turn one down. Negotiating a salary after securing a placement.
Students shouldn't use salary as the main criteria for choosing a job. Students should take into consideration what a company can offer them in terms of personal development and opportunities. Typical Business Placement job role and responsibilities
Business students in particular can expect to apply for a wide array of jobs, as many job roles will almost certainly involve at least one area of a business discipline. As many placement students, have had very little previous experience of work, they cannot expect to be a manager straight away. However a placement student can expect to help support managers in the day to day running of a department. The types of organisations which offers the best quality placements.
It's often advisable for students to apply to larger firms who run placement schemes. Larger organisations are also more likely to provide better support and have certain quality assurances procedures in place for any problems students may encounter. For example if a student has a problem with their manager, they may be able to gain advice for the organisations Human Resources department, who may intervene, if required.
Most business students are likely to secure a clerical or admin based job roles. However if they are good with numbers, and are not very extrovert then a student may prefer a finance or accounting job role. In short it's what interests the student.
What criteria placement Students should use to choose a placement.
Students should keep in mind the following things:
3. Will the job role allow the student to build upon their skills and abilities? 4. Will they give the student more responsibility and allow them to widen the scope of their job role as their performance improves?
5. Are they willing to treat the student not just as a "normal" employee but to recognise that the placement is a learning experience and therefore encourage the student to learn wider than the scope of their job role would usually allow them.
6. Is the employer going to recognise that the student may still have study commitments and allow them adequate time to complete them and are they willing to aid in the students studies? 7. Although often some tedious tasks are unavoidable and part of normal work, will the student's main job role be based around fulfilling more stimulating responsibilities?
8. Is the job role something which interests the student?
9. Are there likely to be any opportunities for the student to gain full time employment from the company upon graduation? Will it get the student "a foot in the door?"
Often it is very difficult to answer the above questions properly before the student starts the job. There is little value in a student taking a year away from university only to work in an organisation that wants someone to make the tea and work the photocopier.
5. Help the child to develop their areas of strength, particularly among high-functioning students with Asperger's Syndrome (a neurobiological condition characterized by normal intelligence and language development with deficiencies in social and communication skills), and get them job experiences during high school.
Although many colleges have counselors and staff familiar with Autism, only Marshall has a program tailored specifically for autistic students. The program serves three of the university's 16,360 students and may eventually accommodate 10; it will remain small by choice.
"The goal is not for all students with Autism to attend Marshall, but for the program to become a model for other colleges," says Barbara Becker-Cottrill, the Center's director. "The true goal is for students to have the ability to attend the university of their choice. Like all students, they must meet and maintain the university's academic standards. College Selection - Your Number One Priority
1. Accommodations: If proper accommodations are not made available to the student, then it would be futile to attend that particular college.
2. Curriculum: Ideally, there will be enough areas of interest for the student.
Some other criteria that should be particularly important for autistic students include:
Experience with Autism is helpful, but the most important characteristics of the disabilities services program and counseling center are the commitment to providing individualized support and a willingness to learn about each student's disability and needs. Because of the learning differences of students with high functioning Autism/Asperger's Syndrome, they often benefit from tutoring, organizational and personal support services.
Sometimes, a smaller school is easier for students who learn better in a smaller and quieter environment. Some colleges offer cooperative education programs, in which students alternate between taking academic courses and working in related jobs. Such programs have the ability to help students explore potential careers and develop essential work skills.
In college, students are given the responsibility of advocating for themselves. In many colleges, the disabilities services program will write a letter to relevant professors indicating that a student has a disability and may need special accommodations. This letter might be the student's responsibility to give to the professor, or it might be sent out to each professor. Many students will need coaching and support in order to do this. Academic accommodations have been helpful as well as necessary for some students with Asperger's High Functioning Autism because they need a little longer to process information and organize responses. In that case, students may need to talk to the professor in order to arrange for their special seating needs.
Most students with Autism spectrum disorders need clear, systematic organizational strategies for academic work and most likely for all other aspects of daily living. Calendars, checklists and other visual strategies for organizing activities should be developed with the student.
Course Selection
Many students with Asperger's/High Functioning Autism will excel in courses that draw on factual memory and/or visual perceptual skills. For some students, a reduced course load can help keep the stress levels more manageable.
A related issue is that many students with Autism need extra time for thinking about problems and for completing work. This means they will need more time than most students for reading and doing assignments. Social Groups and Activities
Always consider the student's strengths and interests when looking for groups and activities. It may also be possible to mobilize other resources through Student Services, residence advisors and service organizations on campus.
For many students with high functioning Autism, it is preferable to have a single room. It is best if the student can discuss their disability with peers. College student retention is always on the forefront of the minds of college student advisors, deans, and administrators. Rightfully so, because without college students, colleges and universities cease to exist and the advisors and deans are without a job.
As a former college student and lifelong learner who frequents college campuses speaking on this topic and occasionally taking some professional development coursework myself, I have observed and come to know a few reasons why colleges fail at retention and why college students become discouraged and leave college.
1. College students are tolerated rather than celebrated.
When the higher-ups in a college take a hierarchical approach to education and treat students like they are beneath them, students feel alienated and become disgruntled. Nobody likes to be mistreated, particularly college students paying high fees to attend a college.
When bureaucrats within college administration, the transcript office, and the student union treat college students disrespectfully rather than serving them gladly, it frustrates college students and tells them the college or university does not care about them.
When colleges treat their students like another number, eventually students opt for a different approach to pursue their career. 2. College students get angry at being nickled and dimed by colleges.
College students quite frankly don't like paying high tuition fees to attend college, only to later by charged for parking, and than get ticketed for parking in the wrong place when they were running late to class and there was inadequate parking to begin with.
Professors themselves on many college campuses have a hard time finding a place to park. Yet colleges continue to profit by issuing parking tickets. Making students pay $50 to $100 a semester to park is bad enough. Robbing Peter (or your college students who are already challenged financially) to pay Paul (this being the college) doesn't endear college students to the academic institution and university. 3. College students get demoralized when they approach their professor for help and the professor doesn't give them the time of day, nor an adequate explanation for their problem.
Professors at colleges and universities just working to further their career, collect a paycheck, and publish their latest dissertation or book who don't give students the time of day leave students feeling demoralized when they are struggling with a class.
Class assignments and college level material comes easier for some students than others. Therefore when a student is struggling and needs some additional time or help, the professor should make himself or herself available to help the student.
Unfortunately many times nowadays college professors just want to communicate via email, that is if they even check their email and reply in time to help the struggling student and answer their questions. Online forums are another method by which professors try to punt and shun students in need of help.
What colleges fail to realize however is students go to college for hands on instruction and interaction with professors, not to be alienated through an online course or partial net based course that keeps professors and college students at arms length.
4. Financial challenges and constraints cause students to withdraw from college.
Colleges aren't free and students cannot always obtain financial aid. Scholarships are wonderful if a student can get one to go to college, but many students are forced to work a part-time job to survive financially and put themselves through college.
I know I worked a part-time job to put myself through college and rode a bicycle to and from school and work. With the current economic downturn and rising unemployment level, many college students are being laid off from part-time jobs and struggling financially to sustain themselves and pay for their college education.
5. Students withdraw from college when they don't feel socially connected.
A solid social life wherein a student feels connected to other students on his or her college campus is vital to ensure their success. Emotional support and the comradery of friends who understand them and their struggles empower students to persevere with their college education.
When student advisors, deans, and college administration fail to account for and proactively facilitate the necessary social element that sustains students' morale, they do themselves and their college a great disservice. Undeniably and undoubtedly, college students want to feel connected and a part of something larger than themselves. Successful colleges therefore don't just suggest and make social activities and associations available for students, but proactively facilitate and incorporate this into their college's approach to education early on. By doing so, successful colleges provide every student, including those more shy students with less social initiative the opportunity to be actively engaged and socially interact with other students. This opens the door for meaningful interaction, communication, and the establishing of meaningful friendships among college students on campus. The good news is students and professionals desire to attend college. The struggles along the way en route to obtaining a college education and further professional development however when a student steps on a college campus can be irritating and downright frustrating.

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