‘I Finished my Year in Industry Feeling like a Fully-fledged Worker’

Olivia McAleer is studying Business and Management with a Year in Industry. She took a placement year at affiliate marketing giant, Top Cashback.

‘One of my good friends studied at Kent and recommend their business courses to me. I always knew I wanted to go into business and the corporate landscape so I chose Business and Management with a Year in Industry. 

I’ve always been business minded. My dad has been an MD in an oil company for 30 plus years and he was an inspiration to me as he is self-made.  I was born in Newcastle, but I’ve spent most of my life growing up in Tanzania. Growing up abroad added to my aspirations, I want to end up in a company that is global. I have a culturally diverse background that I wanted to keep going. 

Securing the placement at Top Cashback was possible with the support and guidance of the KBS Employability Team.  It was really hard with Covid to find what I needed, there were so many placements not running due to the pandemic, but this seemed to tick all the right boxes. 

The recruitment process was a long application form, a telephone interview for 30 mins and then a video call presentation – not for the faint hearted but the employability team supported me every step of the way! I was ecstatic when they called to say I’d been successful. 

I was a partnerships executive, which was brand management, and we’d have people come to us with marketing budgets to maximise exposure opportunities. That would lead on to setting up on sites, copy and creatives and analysing the performance and how it went. It was data driven which is a great skill to build on, I was impressed the responsibility was given.  

There were so many highlights during my Year in Industry! We went the Cheltenham races, black tie events and then I got to go to an official Samsung event.  Running my very own learning lunch for cancer awareness was a high point. I am a big advocate of raising money for charity after sadly losing my mother to breast cancer, when I was five years old. I do a lot of charity work and volunteering alongside my sister. 

I finished the placement year feeling like a fully-fledged worker and coming back felt weird. I think you have to rewire your brain back into a student – though it’s great to have the experience to reference back to during your studies. 

Personally, I am really enthusiastic about taking a placement, it helped me to develop so many skills and changed me for the better.

Here are my top tips for anyone looking for a placement next year:  

  1. Search and search for the right placement. Persevering is really important; you will get setbacks and rejections but that doesn’t mean you won’t succeed. 
  2. Be confident! When you start the placement, be confident about your skills, you can bring fresh ideas and perspective even if you aren’t experienced.
  3. Manage your time. You will be excused for learning the ins and outs of a business but being on time and able to manage the task given in a timeframe is really important, no matter how experienced you are. 
  4. Step out of your comfort zone. I’d also say always ask if you take on extra things additional to your set role. My charity learning lunch helped me to get to know the team and make a name for myself.’

Do you know what is available to you via the Careers and Employability Service? See here for more information and advice https://www.kent.ac.uk/ces

Olivia took her course with a Year in Industry. Find out more about placement years here.

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