Eleanor Webb, BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Statistics with a Year in Industry student, has just returned from her placement year, which she spent at The Walt Disney Company as a Research Intern. Eleanor found that her Placement Year helped her to get a summer role as a Solutions Engineer Intern, which then led to an offer of a place on a Grad Programme.
Read on to find out about Eleanor’s role, the highlights of her placement and her advice for students considering a placement year:
Why did you choose to study at Kent?
Personally I really like the mix of quiet and social spaces on and off campus as Canterbury has a relaxed feel to it compared to lots of other University cities I visited. As well as this the School and Sibson building seemed like a great place to study (independently and as a group due to the different spaces throughout the building) and feel supported, through office hours, advisors, the wellbeing support option and the fact they have placement course leaders to help with skills on how to get an internship, as I knew I wanted to do a placement year when I was looking for a University.
Could you tell us about the support available when looking for a placement?
Nikki and Frances run the placement year for Maths students and were extremely supportive and organised in preparing us. From 1st year through till our placement year we had weekly sessions on employability (CV, practice interviews, mock assessment centre activities, Excel skills and finding extracurricular activities/jobs to boost our CVs and life experiences before applying to placements). They were also supportive in terms of motivating and building us up throughout the difficult process of applying to and getting rejections for internships, helping us to not give up and see it as improving our skills. In addition to this the Placement Team and the Careers and Employability Service hold helpful sessions, opportunities to speak to previous placement students, and will point you in the direction of lots of roles that you can apply to.
Where did you spend your placement year, and what was your role?
I spent my placement year working for The Walt Disney Company as a Research Intern in the media networks team. I was in the research team for their General Entertainment channels across EMEA and in particular FOX for the UK.
What were your main responsibilities and tasks?
My responsibilities involved creating and sending regular reports on the Fox channel’s performance; these involved data extraction from TV viewing statistics and analysis. I would also regularly work on answering questions for marketing on the channel’s performance or a specific series’ performance or analyse the channel against competitors. I was able to work on some larger pieces of independent work and present these to other teams in meetings, giving insight into a particular question or topic that could benefit the business to make more informed decisions.
What was the highlight of your placement?
One of the highlights of my placement was finishing and presenting my final piece of independent work, which was a deep dive into ‘what makes a globally successful TV series?’. This was a really interesting topic to look into and I used some case studies from previous statistics and research on successful Disney series and episodes as examples for the points I had found. I became really engrossed in this work and had meetings with Lucy, the Media Networks Research and Insights Director to update her on its progress before presenting it to the media networks team.
I also loved working with the other research interns on small projects, preparing for group meetings with them, having coffee catch ups and getting the chance to plan and host Christmas and Easter socials for the media team. Due to working virtually these were really nice ways for us to connect and build relationships. It also allowed us to not miss out on social interactions and continue to have some fun by putting together extravagant quizzes and challenges for the socials.
What are your plans for the future?
Due to having the experience of many placement interviews and skills learnt at Disney, it was easier for me to find a summer role to work in after finishing my placement role. I went on to work at Salesforce as a Solutions Engineer Intern (pre-sales consultancy) as I wanted to experience a different type of role to my placement. I found the role really interesting and varied, involving communicating with lots of different people and problem solving for different businesses, something I could see myself doing in the future. Luckily the SE team and Grad Programme leaders also thought I was a good fit for the company and role and I was offered a place on the Grad Programme. So currently my plans for the future are to work my way up to be an experienced Solutions Engineer at Salesforce and continue to be open later down the line to other roles that would suit my skills at the company.
What advice would you give to students considering taking a placement year?
It will be so worth it and it is definitely worth doing it as a part of your degree. Don’t let rejections or declines after interviews get you down! If I hadn’t done (and got rejected from) as many as I had before my interview with Disney and Salesforce, I may not have been as prepared and confident as I had been and may not have got the roles, because the practice does begin to numb your nerves. Just think of how much future you will thank you for making it easier to get a grad job with all that previous experience!