What can I do over the summer to help me prepare for applying to placements?

Are you planning to apply for placement year opportunities in the coming academic year? If so, you may want to start thinking about what you can do over the summer period, to ensure you feel ready and prepared to apply for placement roles, and so that you can present yourself as a top candidate.


It is important to remember that recruitment for placement years starts early! Some larger organisations may even start advertising their roles as early as the end of August and beginning of September. If you are thinking you might like to do your placement year with a larger company, then it is even more important to be ready for when those application windows open, as they tend to recruit earlier than small-medium organisations (SMEs).


So what can you be doing over the summer to feel ready and prepared? Here are our top tips.


1 – Make sure your CV is up-to-date and have it checked

More often than not, you will be required to provide your CV as one of the first stages in a placement recruitment process. Your second year of university will be very busy, and you will need to juggle your academic and social commitments with applying to placements as well, so why not get your CV looking fantastic over the summer, and ready to send off?

If you are just starting your CV, or if you are looking for some resources, we have lots of great information on our Careers Essentials pages. You can also find some useful resources and advice on the Prospects website too.

* Top tip! Once you have a draft of your CV, we would highly recommend booking a one-to-one appointment through My Jobs Online, with a member of the Careers Team or Placements Team. We can provide tailored advice and support for you, to ensure that your CV reflects you and your experiences in the best way possible.


2 – Research some of the organisations you are interested in applying to

Over the summer, it is a good idea to start researching some of the organisations you may want to apply to, to gain a better understanding of these companies, their products or services, their values, and to stay up-to-date with any current news or projects they might be involved with. This type of research can help to inform your decisions about where you would like to apply to, and it will also come in useful during interviews if you are asked about your knowledge of the company – a double win!

Remember, some of the organisations you are interested in, may be attending one of the university Careers Fairs this year, so be sure to keep an eye out and sign up to any Careers Events where you could potentially network with some placement employers!

* Top tip! – While you are doing your research, consider making a list of the top organisations you would like to apply to, so that you can keep an eye out for any placement opportunities they advertise.


3 – Try to gain some work experience

When you are applying for placement opportunities, it is useful to have experiences on your CV that will help you to stand out from other applicants. If you have some spare time over the summer period, you could consider a part-time job, an internship, or doing some volunteering for example. All of these are great ways to boost your CV, and to give you some good examples to talk about in interviews for placement roles! If you are interested in gaining some work experience, there are lots of useful resources on the Careers website, Gaining Experience page.

* Top tip! – Online courses are also a great way of gaining experience over the summer, and they can help you to demonstrate your skills when applying for placements. Check out our ‘Boost your skills online’ section of our Placements Resources page for more information.


4 – Start practicing those online tests

Online tests are something that can take students by surprise, if they have never encountered them before! These tests can take different forms, including psychometric tests, aptitude tests, game-based tests, and lots more. We have some excellent resources on our Careers website where you can find out more about the type of tests you might face during the placement recruitment process! It is very important to practice these tests before you apply for placements, so that you know what to expect, and you can tackle them feeling more prepared.

* Top tip! Over the summer, make the most of your access to Graduates First, a platform where you can practice all of these online tests, to help you prepare for the real thing!


5 – Sign up for email alerts to notify you about any placement opportunities

To help you feel prepared for applying to placements, it can be really helpful to set up email alerts for any placement opportunities that might be posted. This is a good way of making your search more efficient, as it can save you time and energy, rather than scrolling through lots of adverts each time you go online. You can set up email alerts on most jobs platforms, including My Jobs Online (the university’s jobs board), Rate My Placement, Target Jobs, Indeed, GradCracker and others.

* Top tip! – You can normally set up email alerts for specific criteria, such as location, job role, industry sector, and salary for example, but try not to limit your options too much, otherwise you may miss out on opportunities that you would like to apply for!


We hope that these top tips will help you to feel more prepared for applying to placements in the coming year. Finally, If you have any questions relating to placements, please contact your Placement Coordinator, or alternatively you can email the Placements Team at placements@reading.ac.uk and we will be happy to help.

We hope everyone has a wonderful summer, and we look forward to working with you to help you find and secure a great placement.

The Placements Team.