University. Where to begin. The word itself carries strength and clarity, yet the outcome is just a piece of paper with a numerical grade, which suggests a level of intelligence to the rest of the world.

This is the outcome for most, this is the outcome that is expected, a scroll of paper that is handed to you at the end of your degree, but why stop there? Is that all there is to take from University? Not for me.

I know that for me, my time as a student is a stepping stone to the ladder of success, an aid to help me expand on my skills. I have four years to do things right and the hardest thing I have ever done is search for a placement.

Two years into university and I was thrown into the world of ‘career’, searching long and hard for someone to allow me to showcase my talents and work with them for just one year, to convert my abilities into something more powerful, a student with more than just a scroll, a student with the ability to turn something theoretical into a set of practical skills.

In order to help find me a placement, I used the resources put forward by my university. I attended various placement events hosted at Aston University during my first years and liaised with employers, I booked in time to meet my Placement Coordinator to go through my progress and have my CV and Cover Letter checked.

The most important tool I used was the online portal ‘Aston Futures’ where I found the advertisement for the role I play today.

I currently have placement at Aston University, the place of where I study as a Marketing Assistant … who would have thought?

So far I have been working just shy of 6 months, almost half my placement complete and in these 6 months I have already begun to develop my toolkit for a career in Marketing.

Like every job, there are transferable skills to be attained, but the beauty of a placement is that it gives you the specific skills needed to differentiate yourself from your peers. For instance, I have been exposed to the workings of Adobe Photoshop, MailChimp and Easysite all of which are the basics of what a Marketer should be able to use, but for me this was the first time and for me, this is what made me, that little bit more different.

Instantly, this allows me to stand out from those who have not undergone a placement, as I am able to demonstrate my ability to work in Marketing, before I have even graduated.

Had it not been for my studies at Aston, I can almost certainly say that I would not have taken a year out in between my studies to work.

Having been exposed to the benefits of a placement year, Aston has now prepared me to be more than just a student, it has prepared me to be a graduate. Now let’s think about that grad role…

By Zahra Jussab,
Aston University Marketing Assistant