The University of Chester Business School has been celebrating graduate employability skills at its annual placement conference, when business students returned from their year in industry to share their career changing experience.
Twenty-four students went through a competitive application process to secure placements with a host of Blue Chip companies, including BMW, Lidl, GE Aviation, Welocalize, Debenhams, Tactical Solutions, and Marketing Cheshire.
There are also students on international placements like Mali Forren, who is with Welocalize in Barcelona.
Business management and entrepreneurship student, Ben Summers, is experiencing all aspects of the business at Lidl.
He said: “Lidl have been so welcoming and I really feel part of the team. The idea behind their internship is to see all areas of the business, so I have experienced sales and I have been trained to management level on key performance indicators. Next I will spend four months on logistics and supply chain management.
“It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I feel ready for a management job and I am definitely going to apply for the company’s graduate scheme.”
Since 2012, global localisation and translation company Welocalize has offered placements to several students at the University of Chester. This year is no exception, with seven students spending their placement year, working within various departments at Welocalize at their offices in Chester and Barcelona.
Chester-based marketing management student Lauren Verdon said: “Welocalize is an excellent company to work for and I have gained valuable insights during my placement year, working as part of the global marketing team.
“From day one, I was given hands-on experience, supporting the planning and management of Welocalize events which take place all over the world. One of the highlights from my placement year was organising a high profile client event in Berlin.
“Dealing with various international stakeholders and working across multiple time zones allowed me to develop my commercial experience and broaden my personal and business skills. The year has helped me develop my career goals and focus my aspirations in the field of global marketing.”
The conference is unique to the Faculty of Business and Management, which offers a placement option on the majority of its courses and supports its students throughout their year in industry, including a visit to them at their host company.
The conference is a valuable opportunity for first and second years at the university to find out what they can expect. Following this year’s conference, four first year students have been inspired to transfer from a three to four year degree and start their own year out in industry.
Dr Connie Hancock, head of department for business and finance, said: “When the students return from their placement they are transformed! It is crucial for our students to gain work related skills and we have been delighted to help them on their journey and thank all our many partners in industry.”
Many placement students are offered jobs to return to once they have completed the final year of their degree.
Meera Ghedia (international business management) enjoyed a placement at Golfbreaks.com in Windsor in 2017 and has been offered a job when she graduates later this year.
Business student Jake Gardiner enjoyed a placement at Microsoft, also in 2017 and has been recommended by his manager for its graduate programme.
Vikki Brockhurst, career consultant for careers and employability, student futures at the university, said: “The conference is an excellent opportunity for students to reflect on their placement experience and to celebrate what they’ve achieved and the skills they’ve developed so far.
“Their presentations gave a real insight into what they could do and as ambassadors of the university. They are a source of inspiration to all students. In a competitive graduate labour market, students obtaining and making the most of a placement experience, could make all the difference.”