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I'm almost certainly not going to get a summer placement, what should I do instead? Watch

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    Hey, sorry if this is the wrong place to post this but it's my first making a post here.

    Basically, I'm a second year chemical engineering student in Leeds. My applications from most major engineering companies that advertise heavily for students have been rejected and I've sort of realized that it is completely first. In one of the earlier topics in this section someone wrote that there isn't any real opportunities for mediocre engineers, at looking at my CV and grades, I'm one of them.

    I'm working towards bringing my grades up, I've started a hell of a lot earlier this time around and hopefully with a bit of effort this will help me reach the "potential" my secondary school teachers that I hated kept banging on about.

    But what I wanted to ask you guys is, what should I do this summer to avoid wasting it and become a better engineer(ing student)? Obviously, summer isn't far away so I'm just looking for any recommendations that any of you have that will make me look a tiny bit more appealing next year.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions and once again, if this is wrong place just link me to it and I'll do the ol' copy and paste.
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    (Original post by SgtPugsey)
    Hey, sorry if this is the wrong place to post this but it's my first making a post here.

    Basically, I'm a second year chemical engineering student in Leeds. My applications from most major engineering companies that advertise heavily for students have been rejected and I've sort of realized that it is completely first. In one of the earlier topics in this section someone wrote that there isn't any real opportunities for mediocre engineers, at looking at my CV and grades, I'm one of them.

    I'm working towards bringing my grades up, I've started a hell of a lot earlier this time around and hopefully with a bit of effort this will help me reach the "potential" my secondary school teachers that I hated kept banging on about.

    But what I wanted to ask you guys is, what should I do this summer to avoid wasting it and become a better engineer(ing student)? Obviously, summer isn't far away so I'm just looking for any recommendations that any of you have that will make me look a tiny bit more appealing next year.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions and once again, if this is wrong place just link me to it and I'll do the ol' copy and paste.
    Firstly it's not too late yet. I'm sure some people on my course got summer placement offers even after their May exams. I didn't get one of my summer placement offers until the middle of April, and I don't think that was considered late.

    Secondly, there is more to you as an engineer than just your grades. Some of the best engineers I have worked with didn't get particularly good grades at university. Although you definitely should try and get your grades up, as things are more competitive now and having good grades definitely helps with getting your foot in the door.

    Thirdly, how are you going about trying to get a placement? You've mentioned applying to "major" companies, but these are highly competitive, by virtue of the fact that they advertise heavily so get lots of applicants. Are you looking at smaller companies, and are you making speculative applications?

    Lastly, in the event that you do not get a placement (which is not a foregone conclusion), you should try and get any sort of work, to at least give you something to do, and money too.
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    Please re-read my question.

    I'm aware that good grades aren't the be-all and end-all of an engineer and while I'm making an effort to improve them, I'm not asking advice to bring these grades up.

    I'm asking what can I do during the summer to help myself stand out just a little more next time around beyond summer placements. I seriously doubt another three months of me stacking shelves in Tesco is going to help. I'm being realistic about chances of getting a placement given I have been rejected from the vast majority of my applications and I wouldn't hire me given the far more talented and well-rounded alternatives. So I'm simply asking any little things I could do over the summer, beyond stacking shelves and heading down to the pub, to improve my chances.
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    (Original post by Smack)

    Thirdly, how are you going about trying to get a placement? You've mentioned applying to "major" companies, but these are highly competitive, by virtue of the fact that they advertise heavily so get lots of applicants. Are you looking at smaller companies, and are you making speculative applications?
    I wish I could say this to people more than 1 million times. I learned it's a waste of time applying to these big co-operations because it's far too competitive, you will have a 100x more luck making speculative applications and applying to small companies.
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    (Original post by SgtPugsey)
    .
    see above.
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    Okay... Thank you guys very much for responses.

    But once again, I'm asking what can I do during the summer to help myself stand out just a little more next time around beyond summer placements that's maybe a little more specific to an engineering degree than just getting a job or volunteering.
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    Is there an IChemE branch where you will be staying over the summer?

    I was in a similar situation to yourself and I started going to my local IMechE branch meetings and events. Obviously not a job or something that will keep you occupied over summer, but it will at least allow you to say that you are active within the IChemE on your CV.

    That's all I can think of at the moment.
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    I'll look into it, thanks.
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    Any kind of job really is a good start, if you can do something that isn't retail related then that will help you stick out a bit. If you can afford it or your uni offers a scholarship then maybe look into summer schools as well?
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    (Original post by SgtPugsey)
    Okay... Thank you guys very much for responses.

    But once again, I'm asking what can I do during the summer to help myself stand out just a little more next time around beyond summer placements that's maybe a little more specific to an engineering degree than just getting a job or volunteering.
    Hey!
    I do applaud your rational approach to this situation!
    Fancy spending the summer in America? Doing Camp America can help you stand out on CV and provide examples in competency interviews!
    I haven't done it myself but a friend did it in her first year, and she did really well in the following summers in terms of securing (chemical) engineering internships!

    Look here https://www.campamerica.co.uk/
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    Thank you all for your suggestions, I'll make sure to put some time to one side to check them all out.

    I have been sending out applications to smaller companies, I have yet to hear anything vaguely sounding like an opportunity back but I'll continue to send them out nonetheless. Given the views on the opportunities in big companies, I can't help but feel our careers office seems to fail by pushing these internships forward a lot more than at smaller companies, given these companies an opportunity to advertise themselves more than anything. I don't think I've actually heard one of them even mention the phrase "speculative application" once. Either way, thank you guys again.
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    (Original post by SgtPugsey)
    Thank you all for your suggestions, I'll make sure to put some time to one side to check them all out.

    I have been sending out applications to smaller companies, I have yet to hear anything vaguely sounding like an opportunity back but I'll continue to send them out nonetheless. Given the views on the opportunities in big companies, I can't help but feel our careers office seems to fail by pushing these internships forward a lot more than at smaller companies, given these companies an opportunity to advertise themselves more than anything. I don't think I've actually heard one of them even mention the phrase "speculative application" once. Either way, thank you guys again.
    I'm currently on graduate scheme and I can tell you one thing, forget about applying bing companies because it's too competitive and waste timer. Like everyone said start with small companies and once you graduate you will be able to apply graduate scheme or big companies much easier.
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    (Original post by SgtPugsey)
    Hey, sorry if this is the wrong place to post this but it's my first making a post here.

    Basically, I'm a second year chemical engineering student in Leeds. My applications from most major engineering companies that advertise heavily for students have been rejected and I've sort of realized that it is completely first. In one of the earlier topics in this section someone wrote that there isn't any real opportunities for mediocre engineers, at looking at my CV and grades, I'm one of them.

    I'm working towards bringing my grades up, I've started a hell of a lot earlier this time around and hopefully with a bit of effort this will help me reach the "potential" my secondary school teachers that I hated kept banging on about.

    But what I wanted to ask you guys is, what should I do this summer to avoid wasting it and become a better engineer(ing student)? Obviously, summer isn't far away so I'm just looking for any recommendations that any of you have that will make me look a tiny bit more appealing next year.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions and once again, if this is wrong place just link me to it and I'll do the ol' copy and paste.
    Alternatives to placements at big companies:
    - IAESTE
    - small companies (experience is experience, also for you, not only the CV)
    - do an internship in a lab at a uni abroad

    Otherways: Enjoy the vacation to be not exhausted during term time.
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    (Original post by trapking)
    I wish I could say this to people more than 1 million times. I learned it's a waste of time applying to these big co-operations because it's far too competitive, you will have a 100x more luck making speculative applications and applying to small companies.
    I'm not an engineering student (sorry OP!) but I found this interesting and wanted to ask you a quick question if that's okay. I was looking for a lab placement and as usual the big companies are very competitive but I haven't found many smaller ones posting application forms or anything. Does this apply only if they advertise placements or can you kind of nudge them with an email and a CV and ask if they can take you on?

    To OP, maybe ask your professors if they could place you in one of their labs for the summer, even to shadow? I'm not sure how engineering placements would work like that but at least for something biomedical that kind of thing is possible. It'd be worth a shot I'd say.
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    (Original post by neuromancer1)
    I'm not an engineering student (sorry OP!) but I found this interesting and wanted to ask you a quick question if that's okay. I was looking for a lab placement and as usual the big companies are very competitive but I haven't found many smaller ones posting application forms or anything. Does this apply only if they advertise placements or can you kind of nudge them with an email and a CV and ask if they can take you on?

    To OP, maybe ask your professors if they could place you in one of their labs for the summer, even to shadow? I'm not sure how engineering placements would work like that but at least for something biomedical that kind of thing is possible. It'd be worth a shot I'd say.
    Google whatever specific placement you want to do and look through most of the search results. From this you will find a bunch of small companies related to what you want to do and then just send them a speculative email (obviously find their email on their website) asking if they can offer you some short term experience and attach your CV in the email in case they are actually offering! Good luck
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    (Original post by trapking)
    Google whatever specific placement you want to do and look through most of the search results. From this you will find a bunch of small companies related to what you want to do and then just send them a speculative email (obviously find their email on their website) asking if they can offer you some short term experience and attach your CV in the email in case they are actually offering! Good luck
    Thanks a lot for the reply! I'm asking mostly because I've sent around a few emails to some university labs asking if I could get some work experience there (wanted to stay at home whilst doing so) but most replied saying they didn't have any such placements, so smaller companies might be a better choice. Thanks again
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    (Original post by neuromancer1)
    Thanks a lot for the reply! I'm asking mostly because I've sent around a few emails to some university labs asking if I could get some work experience there (wanted to stay at home whilst doing so) but most replied saying they didn't have any such placements, so smaller companies might be a better choice. Thanks again
    Ahh the chances of getting one very close to home might be a bit slim but remember it's a worthwhile investment to your long term goals so if you show willingness to work should they offer you experience that will only add to your advantage in future
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    (Original post by SgtPugsey)
    Please re-read my question.

    I'm aware that good grades aren't the be-all and end-all of an engineer and while I'm making an effort to improve them, I'm not asking advice to bring these grades up.

    I'm asking what can I do during the summer to help myself stand out just a little more next time around beyond summer placements. I seriously doubt another three months of me stacking shelves in Tesco is going to help. I'm being realistic about chances of getting a placement given I have been rejected from the vast majority of my applications and I wouldn't hire me given the far more talented and well-rounded alternatives. So I'm simply asking any little things I could do over the summer, beyond stacking shelves and heading down to the pub, to improve my chances.
    Go to Africa and volunteer to help children and teach them about technology/science/lego robots.
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    (Original post by y0_3mma)
    Go to Africa and volunteer to help children and teach them about technology/science/lego robots.
    As nice a sentiment that is, its not actually feasible for me. The vast majority of those volunteering opportunities are either highly competitive, expensive or require skills I do not possess (Not to mention quite a few have been reported to do more harm than good).

    I'm just gonna spend the summer stacking shelves and getting pissed, and if the government has maybe exaggerated my job prospects in engineering I think'll just sign up with the Army (Probably should've just done that straight outta school like I planned to, but I guess I'll get a fancy degree this way).
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    (Original post by SgtPugsey)
    As nice a sentiment that is, its not actually feasible for me. The vast majority of those volunteering opportunities are either highly competitive, expensive or require skills I do not possess (Not to mention quite a few have been reported to do more harm than good).

    I'm just gonna spend the summer stacking shelves and getting pissed, and if the government has maybe exaggerated my job prospects in engineering I think'll just sign up with the Army (Probably should've just done that straight outta school like I planned to, but I guess I'll get a fancy degree this way).
    Anyway, I think it's waaay easier to get an engineering graduate job (compared to others)! There are sooo many, literally hundreds of vacancies and they really need engineers! Every time I want to apply for a graduate job, only engineering everywhere.. and it's sad because even though i'm studying engineering, i am looking for other jobs.

    Grades are not the most important thing... I think it's the extra activities that you do that set you apart from the rest. Think about it - there must be other 200 chemical engineering students at the uni of Leeds only who study the same courses, same assignments, and have either a 1st or 2:1.

    And you are right - there isn't any real opportunities for mediocre engineers! You should think: What sets me apart? Why should they hire me and not the other 200 applicants? What value can I bring to them? And if you don't have the experience, of course, they will choose the other candidate who is more skilled! I know it hurts, but this is the truth and even I was told the exact same thing. So really what you need to do - think of ways to get experience - be in the commitee of a society, get involved in events, join a Chemical society that does some experiments/practical work, email small companies in Leeds and ask them to work for free/observe for 2-3 weeks and get some insights into what they're doing. Or just make a list of what opportunities you have in your 3rd year and how you want to take advantage of them.
 
 
 
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