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Jessica's Placement Story

Jessica Metcalfe student profile
Name: Jessica Metcalfe

Course: BSc International Relations and English Language
Placement roles (dual placement):  General Management and Language Assistant, Copywriter Marketing Internship
Company: HSBC and Digimind (both in Paris)

At HSBC the role was really about running one to one lessons with the staff to improve their English and acting as a translator; as well as helping out with general jobs and projects within the team. Digimind was far more about running independent projects, creating marketing campaigns, working on social media, email blasts, blog writing and content management. If you can name any role to do with marketing, I was doing it.
Really there was no typical day in either of my placements as every day was different. HSBC offered a much more nurturing environment, particularly as my French was a little sketchy. I’d have lessons throughout the week and would always be asked to provide translations for emails, documents and spreadsheets so the staff knew how they needed to respond. There were plenty of coffee breaks which meant chances to bond with the team as a whole (although, not being the biggest coffee drinker, I always had water, which the French team thought was rather odd). Digimind on the other hand was a very young, vibrant and fast-paced workforce. I was always kept on my toes with three blog posts to write or translate each week, email blasts to send out as well as helping to organise events and many more things. The office always knew how to do lunch, with regular games of pool topped off with meals out and celebratory drinks for new staff and fiscal year results.

Through working with the property team in HSBC, I was indirectly involved with the relocation of several hundreds of HSBC staff to new office locations. I also helped with translations and work linked with the big audit the team was having at the time. I guess at Digimind, several of the projects were fairly high profile as I was working on projects that were promoted at the general international audience. The events also drew in several professionals from the Social Media field, so I guess that counts too.

Try and get as much planned as you can before you leave and what you can’t do beforehand, research and find out what you will need to do when you arrive. It saves a lot of hassle and means you can hit the ground running! Also use the opportunity (particularly if you are working abroad) to travel and see your other friends who are based all over the world. You’ll never have as bigger opportunity for free accommodation and cheap travel costs.

In so many ways! For me, I’ve worked in a teaching office environment, worked in an international team and on global projects so I now have even more to talk about in interviews and on my CV. It also makes you 10x more confident in whatever you do and to not give up if it gets hard, even if you’re already confident.

  • Be confident
  • If you can, really get to know your colleagues
  • Stay in touch with the friends you meet on your journeys
  • Research events and non-tourist attractions wherever you live - trust me it pays off and adds more variety to your experience 
  • Go home if you need to, but try to spend your free time exploring your new home
  • Plan as much as you can in advance (Housing, admin, bank account etc)

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from anyone - you’re not incapable, you’re sensible

  • Explore your new country

  • Travel!

  • Stay in touch with international friends you meet abroad

  • Good organisation, just check your deadlines ahead and put them in your diary with some goals 
  • Don’t always pass off one-off social activities for uni work - if you plan ahead you shouldn’t have this problem 
  • Find a spot you work best
  • Use sightseeing as a break
  • Know how you work best - night time owl or early bird, you need to make it work around your job

 

Having fun! The work was hard and sometimes stressful, but I was living in Paris, had and made great friends, built my confidence and travelled some more of Europe. The placement year was really the best thing, because without I wouldn’t have done any of any of the things or be writing about it now.