Ashley is in his final year of a finance, accounting and management degree from the University of Nottingham. He was contacted by Graddtobusiness, which helps East Midlands employers find students and graduates for work placement opportunities and vacancies. They found him a placement at a security company in Nottingham. The company wanted someone to look through the accounts from previous years and analyse them.
What was your motivation in applying?
I really wanted some work experience. I had applied for a few internships at big firms but I was not successful, so I applied for other work experience. Eventually I hope to go into investment banking.
What did the application process involve?
It was quite simple: I sent off my CV with a couple of other details, such as available hours and the areas I was interested in. They came back to me a week later with a placement I might be interested. I had an interview and got the job.
What did you do?
I started working through all the accounts from the previous 20 years. They were all muddled up, so I organised them and put them into an Excel spreadsheet. I created a number of graphs for the directors to find out the areas where they were doing best; alarms, CCTV and so on. As a consequence they implemented a new strategy and it’s already paying off. I was also talking about my course and the company was interested in my studies of organisational behaviour. I spent time with each employer to analyse what they did. I processed all the data into flow diagrams, which can be given to temporary or new members of staff, so they can easily see what their responsibilities and their main roles are.
How did you sell the experience on your CV?
I detailed my knowledge of databases, both of using and creating them. I also highlighted my knowledge of spreadsheets. In fact, I have changed a few figures from the company spreadsheet I created, and I have put it into a portfolio to take along to interview.
Did you enjoy it?
It has been useful and I have really learnt a lot. I have learnt how an office environment seems to work. I also saw the difference between sales people and engineers and how they work together.
What did you learn?
I learnt how to communicate in different areas of the business. I attended a number of different meetings and learnt about the logistics of being in a meeting. I was working by myself a lot, which required a lot of initiative.
The fact that I have actually made a difference and the company actually changed because of what I suggested. For example, they are now in the process of emailing their invoices rather than posting them, which will mean a lower carbon footprint amongst other things.
The horrendous traffic and working on the other side of town! Starting work at 8.30 in morning was also difficult to adjust to as a student, but nothing else really.
What advice to readers do you have?
It is definitely worth doing a placement like mine. It is a lot more useful than working in a shop. Do something that makes you stand out and that employers can ask you about it.