Careers Advice

Ask the expert University of Edinburgh

We continue our series where we ask the careers experts to share their knowledge and expertise about successful graduate placements. This week we hear from Susan Bird, careers consultant at University of Edinburgh.

Published: 25/07/2017

1.      What’s the most important thing to look for in a graduate placement?

When looking at a placement, make sure that it presents an opportunity where you can contribute a meaningful piece of work to that company or complete a project that will enable you to grow in confidence and gain valuable experience during your time there.

2.      Why would you recommend a ScotGrad placement?

ScotGrad placements present an opportunity to make a real impact in an SME (Small to Medium Sized Enterprise) in Scotland.

You gain recognition for your work and skills while building up experience as well as gaining a network of contacts which will be invaluable as your career progresses.

ScotGrad offer a wide and varied range of placements so there is an opportunity to work on interesting projects within organisations which value and support graduates.

3.      What’s your top tip for tailoring applications?

Do some real in-depth research into the role to find out as much as you can about both the employer and also the specific placement which is on offer.

It is essential that you highlight your skills and knowledge which are relevant to the role on offer and relate your response to the application. Although it can be quicker and feel easier to send out a ‘standard CV’, it is really important to underline why you are suited to the particular placement being advertised and target your application.

4.      How can a candidate stand out during an interview with an SME?

An interview is your opportunity to show that you have researched the organisation and also found out about the sector and how they fit in.

Try to resist the temptation to use buzzwords as they can just be meaningless. Instead focus on giving examples of work you have carried out using relevant experience to back up the points you are making.

Be clear about what you can offer the company and also why you want to work for them. Be enthusiastic about what you will bring and why you will be a good addition to the team.

Interviews can be daunting so get some practice and prepare in advance. Think about the questions you may be asked so you can have answers ready that will underline why you are the perfect candidate. It’s always good to have a practice run through. Why not ask a friend or family member to play the role of the interviewer and follow up with honest feedback that you can work from. Use the self-help resources from Careers Service too.

5.      What’s the best piece of career advice you have received?

The one piece of advice that has been useful throughout my career is to be proactive and helpful. Regardless of the role or the sector this means that people will remember you for the right reasons.