Arnold – My placement search story

Name: Arnold

Company: Pfizer

Job role: Procurement Intern

Degree: Business Management and Economics

Placement Year: 2014/2015

Arnold Mavunga

My placement search

If there is one word that can suitably describe the process of applying for and securing a placement, its perseverance. When I chose my undergraduate course, I always maintained the idea of conducting a year placement, not only because it looks good to graduate employers – but also the whole process is invaluable as you gain practical experience in the industry that most interests you. Unbeknown to me, was the rejection and disappointment you are most likely to encounter during the search; unless, of course, you are one of the lucky students that secure their placement on their first attempt.

You’re not alone!

This conveniently brings me back to the word perseverance. When I began applying for placements I found that I was being turned down by almost every company I applied for; I experienced my first bout of disappointment. Thankfully, the Work Based Learning Unit began a pilot mentorship scheme for previous placement students to be matched up to students looking for placements, in order for them to provide guidance and assistance to students who are applying.

The scheme gave me hope, as my mentor had actually secured himself a placement in the industry that I wanted to work in. The benefits of having a mentor, is that they are there to encourage you whenever you feel down after a decline during the application process (and there are plenty, believe you me). I used my mentor wisely, time after time; I showed improved versions of my CV as he continued to give me constructive feedback. The process was tedious, but it worked; as I managed to secure my first ever assessment day with the enterprise software firm SAP.

The assessment day was a really good experience, I learnt more about myself in regards to how I react towards group situations with complete strangers. Unfortunately though, I didn’t get the job – my second bout of disappointment. What followed was soul-searching, trying to figure out where I was going wrong as more and more people were securing placements – it seemed to be everyone but me at one point. Fortunately, my mentor helped me to overcome the angst; thus I carried on sending CVs and Cover Letters.

The tailored approach

There came a point, when exams were about to start; and I realised that I would have to stop applying for a month – I believe that is when I made a decisive decision which helped me in the long run. You see, when you have so many cover letter’s to do, writing a new one each time becomes very tedious. What most people tend to do, is create a generic cover letter; and have one interchangeable paragraph, relating to the relevant company, that can be swapped out. I followed suit. However, this tactic had proved to be unfruitful. So before exams began, and an email for a job with Pfizer came up , I created a whole new cover letter from scratch putting all my time and effort into it.

Thankfully, another interview came through – and now the rest is history, as I am now an Intern for Pfizer Ltd, the subsidiary of Pfizer Inc; a global pharmaceutical company.

Top tip?

Always persevere.


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