Former Placement Student Panel Discussion

This week our industry seminars heard from a range of students, who’ve been on placements with companies. Some were gone for a year, while one went for two summers to the same company. They all shared some common perspectives of their experience.

First, the company knows that you’ll not have lots of technical knowledge, so they are looking for signs/evidence of your interest in the area, and in your ability to learn and apply new knowledge. They want to know whether the time and effort that they spend on working with you now will be worth it, and maybe come back to them as a full-time employee. You can show that you’re interested in the area/subject by doing stuff outside the classroom, that shows you can also pick up new knowledge. The students mentioned their side-projects in relevant areas, attending hack events, working in a start-up, and volunteering with relevant roles in the computing space.

Second, they said the technical interview was useful and helped them show their ability in the area they wanted to work in for the placement. They said, as have other employers too, that this is less about specifying the ‘right’ answer as there might not be one, but in the organisation being able to ‘see’ how the student thinks by working out the problem on a whiteboard, or piece of paper and thinking out loud what their thoughts are. The company wants to better understand your potential, and how you would collaborate with others in the team.

Third, they all said it was easy to find time to do these side-projects as they had determined their priorities, which made deciding what to do, where to focus their time and effort, was less challenging than it might seem. They also realised that it’s a matter to balancing time on computing things against gaming, or socialising with friends was also important so that they didn’t burn out. They said their employers also stressed that this was important too.

Fourth, placements and other small work opportunities were found by looking at relevant company websites, the list in MyAberdeen, attending the industry seminars, and talking to people. Short-term work projects can be found in Aberdeen at either Udrafter or the Uni careeers site.

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