It’s peak season for placement applications. If you attended our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair last week, you’ll know that a placement is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door at your dream company. But once you successfully secure a placement how can you make an impact that will lead to a potential job offer? We asked some top recruiters and here is what they had to say…
“The most successful placements are undertaken by students who appreciate the vast developmental opportunity that is presented to them via a work placement. Enthusiasm, active listening and the willingness to learn will result in a successful placement experience for both student and host organisation. Depending upon business requirements, students who contribute effectively, learn from others and ultimately impress during their placement year with Almac, leave with a conditional offer of employment ahead of their final year of study.”
Kim McAllister, Talent Acquisition Manager, Almac Group
Go above and beyond
“A student always makes an impact if they go above and beyond to help others. It could be that they offer to help someone who is struggling to get a job finished for a deadline or just something as small as offering to make tea or coffee for your team.
And ask questions! It shows you’re keen to learn and have a genuine interest in the role.
We also love to see our new members get to know everyone in the office by chatting with them at lunch or attending our social events. We’re a tight knit office so it’s important that people feel part of the team and enjoy the culture at Muldoon & Co.”
Olivia Blundell, Trainee Accountant, Muldoon & Co
Be willing to learn
“Having recently had a Queen’s student on our team, we found that having the willingness to train and learn was a great benefit. Get involved in the team and don’t be afraid to put points and ideas forward.”
Joelene Ridgill , Purchasing Manager at Seacoya Group Ltd
“The best thing to do is to get involved in as much as possible. At Liberty IT, we have the opportunity to sign up for an unlimited amount of training and attend internal and external tech talks and conferences. Our past interns have participated in hackathons, talked at events and helped out with recruitment. There’s no limit to what you can get involved in.”
Birgitta Swanberg, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Liberty IT
“Be eager and demonstrate a willingness to work by arriving on time and with a positive attitude. Look to develop your skills by communicating with employers within the business; ask questions and make sure you seek out those answers. Show interest in the work by keeping up with new technologies within the market.”
Chloe Brown, Corporate Recruiter, MRP
Teach yourself along the way
“Speak up, ask questions, and research topics. We don’t expect you to know everything, but we want to see you proactively learning and engaging.”
Jared Kearney, Senior Campus Recruiter, Citi UK and Citi Ireland
Meet Michael Downey, one of our Go Global Ambassadors 2020. If you are thinking of following in his footsteps and spending a year or a semester abroad, he’s here to share his tips, tricks and wisdom with you.
“New York City has an energy like no other – it’s fast-paced and full of life! Certainly, when you compare it to the countryside in Dromore, Co. Down.”
As a Business Information Technology student, I made the decision to do a placement in one of the greatest cities in the world, New York City. The experience of living and working on NYC was a rollercoaster (and included a 4-month quarantine in Miami) but it’s been a life-changing experience. Here are just some of the reasons why….
I worked as a Software Developer for a SaaS start-up called On The Stage, and I joined at a time when the company was experiencing high growth – this was super exciting! My office was located on Broadway & W 54th St and my apartment in Amsterdam Ave & W 107th St, both in Manhattan so this was only a 20-minute subway ride which was super convenient.
What can I say about the concrete jungle of NYC? The energy of the city is like no other – it’s fast-paced and full of life! Certainly, when you compare it to the countryside in Dromore, Co. Down. There’s too much to do in NYC and it never stops. Luckily, if you’re on an intern budget NYC has tons of FREE events to offer, I mean 100’s each day and it can be overwhelming deciding which event to go to.
If you’re worried about surviving financially on an intern salary in NYC, I’d advise you to create a budget and stick to it and you’ll be fine – this is actually a great learning experience as you learn how to manage your personal finances.
Part of my routine involved running around the 1.58-mile Reservoir Loop in Central Park before work. This run at 7.30 am in the morning was a beautiful start to the day as you could escape the mayhem, relax and enjoy the ambience. There were always thousands of people running and this really fueled my motivation to push harder and improve my run time
The beauty of living in a major city is that historic events are commonplace. Luckily, I was able to attend two notable sporting events: the 2019 US Open Tennis – Women’s Singles finals (Serena Williams was playing) and the PGA Tour National Trust Tournament (Rory McIlroy was playing)
On two occasions I also travelled to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch the Brooklyn Nets vs Miami Heat play in the NBA . An NBA game is an awesome experience, they really know how to put on a show. The game comprises 4 quarters with each quarter lasting 12 minutes but the whole show lasts 2 hours!
Escaping the city
In the winter, I travelled to Hunter Mountain Ski Resort with a group of friends for a weekend of snowboarding. This was just over a 2-hour drive from Manhattan which is like driving from Dublin to Belfast, so it’s not far, at least for American standards.
New York City is among the world’s most dynamic culinary capitals.
Sampling new cuisines became a weekly routine. After trying Peruvian at a restaurant named Pio Pio on the Upper West Side I quickly fell in love with this amazing cuisine! Another favourite would have to be Japanese, the ramen from Totto Ramen in Midtown East and the sushi from Sugarfish in Soho were hands down my favorite. Totto Ramen was located within walking distance of my office which was perfect, especially on a chilly winter’s day, the warm broth was an excellent meal to get the blood flowing.
One of the J1-IWT visa requirements is to experience American culture and I believe this was fulfilled by attending a variety of iconic Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Fortunately, the CEO of On The Stage is also a Broadway producer so one of the perks of the job is to occasionally be offered free or discounted tickets. In 7-months I attended nine shows including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hamilton, Slava Snowshow, The Rockettes, The Lion King, Tina The Musical, The Inheritance, Little Shop of Horrors and Riverdance.
Exploring the States
The United States is a huge and diverse place, every state is like its own country in terms of legislation, culture, people and the way of life – that’s what makes the country so special! I experienced this firsthand by travelling to multiple US cities, for example, Miami, Marco Island, Naples, Orlando and Tampa, FL, Houston, TX and Chicago, IL. Each city has a different flavour, culturally, Miami and Houston are extremely different compared to New York and Chicago – it’s interesting to visit and experience these diverse cities. Another fascinating comparison is the political views of the majority; Miami (Republican) vs New York City (Democratic). Here are just a few of my highlights:
Speaking Spanish in Miami
During quarantine, I spent 4-months living in Miami, so I truly experienced the Latin culture. The majority of people speak Spanish so if you want to practice your speaking and listening skills make a trip to Miami. Since 1st year I’ve been taking Spanish classes at Queen’s, so this was the perfect opportunity to improve my skills. I also enjoyed exploring the Latin cuisines; Cuban, Venezuela and Colombian. Miami is a cool city and its growing at a fast rate.
I also got the opportunity to visit Marco Island on the west coast of Florida, it is situated right on the Gulf of Mexico, so the ocean is beautiful as it is calm and warm – just a few degrees hotter than Portrush.
Houston is a modern city in terms of infrastructure and buildings. Everything is BIG, the houses, the cars, the food portion sizes etc. The locals are super friendly, you receive pleasant greetings when out and about. In Houston there is a huge Indian and Vietnamese community, so you see a lot of these restaurants around the city.
The highlight of this trip was visiting the NASA Johnson Space Center, which is home to Mission Control and astronaut training. The behind-the-scenes Tram Tour was amazing, I saw the Saturn V rocket, which is the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever flown. NASA used the Saturn V rockets during the Apollo program to send Americans to the Moon.
Chicago is a pretty city and the most significant characteristic for me was the architecture. It’s like a mini, cleaner New York City. The three days in the city were crammed with tourist activities, these include; the Architectural Boat Tour, Navy Pier, Riverwalk Walking Tour, 360 Skydeck & The Tilt, Deep Dish Pizza and Portillo’s Hot Dog. I loved learning about the history of Chicago.
During my last week in the US, I spent some time at Disney World Orlando which was amazing! I visited Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Highlights were Star Wars land, Avatar Land and Toy Storyland. The new Star Wars and Avatar attractions are so immersive, you truly feel like you’re in the movie – Disney has created an incredible experience.
Michael was supported with obtaining a visa and moving to the US by the Rian Immigrant Center. More details here:
Meet Michael at our Go Global Canada/USA info session on October 12.
How to create an online profile that will stand out to employers at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on 21 and 22 October
The Graduate Recruitment & Placement Fair on 21 and 22 October is the biggest Careers Fair at Queen’s. The fair will be a little different this year as we hosting it virtually on a digital platform called Graduateland. We like to think of this as Tinder, for jobs. Just like an online dating site, you can browse prospective employers to find your perfect match. You can even watch videos and live chat with recruiters. And, just like an online dating site, the more information you put on your online profile, the more you’ll stand out.
Completing your profile
The platform indicates how complete your profile is by giving you a colour coded percentage. Make sure your profile displays as green and as close to 100% complete as possible (you can opt to leave the age and gender fields blank, if you prefer).
Get the basics right
This above video covers the basics of what you will be asked to fill in at registration: degree information, skills etc. The good news is, once you have done this for one event, you don’t need to do it again. So, for example, if you attend Go Global on 14 October, you will already have a Graduateland profile However, for the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair there are a few trickier elements to fill in
Nailing the tricky questions
You can upload your CV, fill in your job history and details of any exchanges or work-related learning you have done. So far, so standard application. Where it gets tricky is an innocuous little box called:
‘Type in a captivating headline’
This is followed by a small box asking you to ‘Add a brief description of yourself that presents your career goals, skills and experience to potential employers.’
We know it can be hard to articulate everything that is fabulous about you in 200 words, so we curated the best tips from across the internet. If you still need help, you can contact our careers team for expert advice on email@example.com.
Imagine you’re a firefighter entering a burning building. The room is so thick with smoke that you can’t see. How do you know which way to turn? This was the challenge set for Queen’s Electrical and Electronic Engineering graduate Sean Hackett before he helped design an award-winning fire fighters’ helmet that tells the wearer which way to turn with a simple buzz to the left or right of the head.
As an IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience intern), Sean is enjoying a year placement as an intern at the Visual Intelligence Studio in Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, where he is part of a research team exploring a safer communication tool for firefighters.
Under Senior Systems Scientist Dr. Yang Cai, the ‘Haptic Helmet’ prototype conceived by Sean’s team won the award for “most commercially viable” at the NIST Haptic Interface for Public Safety Challenge. The contest assessed the use of virtual reality environments as a development tool for creating safety technologies.
As part of the project, Sean and the team travelled to Denver, Colorado for live demos in a fire fighting training facility. This practical experience allowed them to understand how firefighters navigate unfamiliar paths through burned buildings filled with smoke and noise.
Sean said: “The experience of interacting with real-life firefighters and working independently on solutions has been very interesting for me.”
Dr Yang said: “We encourage engineers to find simple solutions that work in the real world. “Although I give them instructions to guide and get them started, I also encourage them to use their own knowledge and experiment because in the real world there is no textbook that tells you what to do and engineers have to work on a lot of problem-solving”.
Along with Dr Yang, Sean and the team worked to develop technology that successfully improves firefighter’s safety and efficiency of in the most challenging and hazardous environments.
During his internship, Sean has also been helping edit a research paper for presentation on “Indo-Navigation and Fire Fighters Activity Recognition”.
Dr Yang commented: “Students and participants from western Europe have a brilliant work ethic. Together, they produce research papers and work on innovative solutions, adding value to the lab. Some European interns have great writing style in addition to other talents and that is monumental when it comes to writing and editing research papers for conferences, which is great additional help.”
According to Sean, it wasn’t hard settling into the new environment thanks to the immense support offered at the lab. “Of course, it’s challenging to be away from friends, family, and home. It takes a little while for the initial adjustment of the processes and procedures but once that is done, it’s pretty smooth sailing.”
The year stateside has also given Sean the opportunity to experience American culture and interact with people from diverse backgrounds, participate in social activities and enjoy American adventure and sports.
Queen’s Chemistry student Anwin Robin has described a paid internship with the British Council’s IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) programme as “the best year of my life.”
Like many Queen’s students, Anwin took the opportunity to gain international experience and boost his employability skills on a paid placement abroad.
Anwin, from Dromore in County Down, moved to Switzerland in June 2019 to work with Empa – Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.
Anwin said: “During my internship I drew on my background as a chemistry student to carry out research into making stronger materials. Knowing that they may be used in the future in structures ranging from airplanes to wind turbines made my work feel tangible and relevant.”
The best year of my life
During his time in Switzerland, Anwin also had the opportunity to meet up other interns working across the country through weekend excursions organised by IAESTE, the largest global mobility programme for STEM students in the world.
Anwin added: “My time in Switzerland has been the best year of my life so far. My IAESTE placement showed me how international many companies are today and confirmed that I want to grow my work experience outside of the UK. I will forever be grateful to IAESTE for providing me with this opportunity.”
Adapting for Covid-19
Anwin enjoyed the experience so much that when Switzerland went into lockdown because of Covid-19, he chose to stay in the country and continue his internship from home. He also used this as an opportunity to develop his coding skills.
Anwin has remained in Switzerland since finishing his IAESTE placement in May. He is currently applying to further internships in the country and hopes to eventually study for a Masters in computer science.
Whilst Covid-19 has restricted much travel this summer, many IAESTE placements have shifted online in response.
Among the 15 students from Northern Ireland who are currently undertaking remote internships with organisations in the USA, India, Bangladesh and Poland, are several Queen’s students who are joining online seminars and discussions. Their subject areas include biomedical science, business and marketing, computer science, aerospace engineering and chemical engineering.
Life changing impact
Jonathan Stewart, Director of the British Council Northern Ireland, said: “It’s wonderful to hear about the lifechanging impact of Anwin’s IAESTE placement, and we wish him all the best as he starts out in his career. Despite Covid-19, the IAESTE programme has quickly adapted and continues to offer quality opportunities for our university students to gain international experience. The remote internships help to provide Northern Ireland students with new technical skills while also experiencing different cultures and ways of working.”
In Northern Ireland IAESTE is funded by the Department for the Economy and delivered by the British Council.
Queen’s STEM students interested in applying for the IAESTE programme can find more information here: