Blog post

How I secured my university placement through networking

Before starting University I knew I wanted to use every opportunity I could to make myself as employable as I could be. Whether that was networking or embarking on additional programmes.

By Lara Gracis - 11 September 2017

During my first semester, I heard about High Fliers, a 4-week programme which aims to teach students how to find jobs, how to apply for them and how to interview successfully. I decided this would be a good opportunity so I joined the programme.

Utilising the High Fliers programme

In the 4th week of the programme, the session focused on assessments that you may have to take as part of the interview process. These sessions feature employers from the industry that you’re studying in who give an overview of what to expect. As the area of study for everyone on the programme was a part of the Department of Hotel, Resort and Spa Management, the employer for our session was from the tourism industry. The head of the Contact Centre at Monarch Airlines held a series of sessions aimed at testing our skills in various areas such as teamwork, communication, presentation, etc.

This was not the first time I had met the head of the Monarch Airlines Contact Centre. I had been lucky enough to be introduced to him by my lecturer at a networking event that the University had organised a few months before. We continued to network throughout the High Fliers programme, giving me a fantastic opportunity to gain an industry insight and to take on some advice. At the end of the programme, I received excellent feedback. Networking had helped me to gain a great understanding of the industry, and I managed to create an industry connection which continued after the programme.

Securing my placement

As I came to the end of my first year I began to think about what I wanted from a placement. I knew that it would enhance my employability and I wanted to ensure I got the most out of it as I could. After taking some time off during the summer I came to the conclusion that I wanted to take a full year placement than a summer placement, I felt that this would help me to gain as much experience as possible. Considering all of the advice and support that I had received from the University through my networking events I started to think about a way to secure myself a year-long placement. That is when I remembered my positive feedback from the head of the Contact Centre at Monarch.

I knew I would need some good references so I emailed him asking if he would be happy to write one for me. I explained that I was looking for a job with an airline that I wanted to undertake abroad so that I could gain more experience. When I got his response, which included a reference, he suggested that I should send an email to the Head of Customer Experience Overseas as they could potentially have a position for me. Taking his advice I quickly sent the email and very swiftly got a response inviting me to interview.

From then on everything went very smoothly. I went to the interview and got offered the role as Destination Host. We kept in touch to make sure all details were finalised and in July I was told that I would be stationed in Tenerife.

How networking helped

This opportunity was one I would never have had if it were not for networking. I was incredibly lucky to get the first placement that I applied for, and I believe the skills that I gained through the High Fliers programme and the advice I gained through networking helped with this. I would definitely recommend joining in with the networking sessions put on by the University – you never know where it’s going to take you!

About the author

Lara Gracis
Tourism Management student at the University of Derby

Second year BA (Hons) International Tourism Management at the University of Derby. Originally from Croatia, my main interests are travel and tourism, and I also enjoy events and marketing.