Congratulations to Zara Mughal who won the prize for Westminster Business School Placement Student of the Year Award at the Westminster Distinctiveness Awards.
Each year our well-motivated and ambitious Westminster Business School undergraduates undertake a one year, full-time, paid Industrial Placement: the Undergraduate Placement Year. These placements occur during the third year of a student’s 4-year sandwich course and complement their degrees in all the main subject areas we teach: Business Management, Finance and Marketing.
Arranged through our Business Experience Team (BET), a section of the Career Development Centre, over time the scheme has proven to be mutually beneficial for the student and the employer. Employers have consistently expressed that there are many benefits of having a placement student, including the fresh perspective they often bring with them to the role and organisation as well as their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Meanwhile the student gains an insight into the world of work, gets a chance to test drives a potential career or industry, accumulate invaluable work experience and transferable skills.
Furthermore, during the placement, students undertake an academically assessed work-related project which can involve initiating new research; developing an exciting project or even conducting a review or analysis of existing procedures for the employer. An additional advantage of the academic assessment of the placement year is that students on the scheme return for their final year studies with one less module to complete thereby giving them extra time to focus on applying their newly-acquired knowledge and honed time management skill to accomplishing academic success.
During the 2015-16 running of the Undergraduate Placement Year programme 53 students successfully secured and completed a placement. They have since re-enrolled and are now well on the way to completing the final year of their Bachelor degrees. We wish them every success. Please read the profiles to hear from a few of them as they relate how they found the placement year, the development opportunity it provided them and what they took away from it. From the examples below is clear to see that through our links with employers in London our students found placements in a range of different sectors and professions.
Zara – completed placement at the NHS
Name: Zara Mughal
Role & Department:
Finance Work Placement Trainee, Management Accounts – Operations
Employer: NHS – London Ambulance Service
“I currently study Business Management with Accounting. I pursued a Placement to gain a practical insight within an Accounting Department. I wanted to use the opportunity to develop skills that I could carry forward in both my professional and academic career.
The team I worked in focuses on Operations which involves dealing with Frontline staff and managing the Trust’s income. My responsibilities included: the preparation and uploading of monthly journals, and ensuring that such journals had adequate supporting information. Investigating expenditure variances to budget reported on the ledger and instigating corrective action. Ensuring all invoices were raised in a timely manner within deadlines as well as training new staff and budget holders on software used by the Trust.
My placement year with the NHS has influenced me to pursue a career within Accounting and to seek to gain a professional qualification upon graduation.”
Ana – completed placement at Ingenio Software Romania
Name; Ana Vacaru
Role & Department: Marketing Assistant, Marketing Department
Employer: Ingenio Software Romania
“I am studying Business Management with Marketing. I completed a summer internship at the same company before starting my placement.
Ingenio Software develops and implements software applications for Romanian banks and operators. The marketing team creates presentations and tools for showcasing the company’s products and services. In order to undertake my responsibilities successfully I had to study other departments such as software development. Something I have learned from my placement is how to professionally present the company’s products in a B2B environment.
I have decided that I want to continue practicing marketing in Romania.”
Andre – completed placement at Westminster Business School
Name: Andre Tieni Vidigal
Role & Department: Marketing Assistant, Marketing
Employer: Westminster Business School
“I study International Marketing BA Honours and planned to do a placement even before I started my degree. I wanted to gain practical experience and valuable skills, which are highly sought by employers.
Westminster Business School is one of the leading Business Schools in the UK and has a very international atmosphere. The Marketing Team communicate with both current and prospective students, which enabled me to use many social media channels. I was responsible for staff and student newsletters and also wrote many blog posts and news stories for the website. I gained many soft skills including teamwork and had many achievements: I was nominated at the Staff Appreciation Awards and Westminster Distinctiveness Awards and achieved Gold at the Green Impact Awards (a sustainability programme).
The placement enabled me to realise that I really love marketing and I have decided to pursue a Master’s degree as soon as I graduate. I have gained many skills and will apply for big companies.”
Arjun – completed placement at IBM
Name: Arjun Aujla
Role & Department: Finance Analyst – WPP Account, Global Technology Services
“I took a Placement Year to gain key exposure to Finance within a large organisation, and to experience a real-life working environment. The year out provides an excellent foundation for a graduate job.
IBM is the world’s largest IT and consulting services company, as well as a global leader in business and technology. IBM provide innovative solutions to a diverse client base to solve their biggest challenges. One integrated account in IBM is WPP – a world leader in advertising and marketing services. I worked on this account as a Finance Analyst. My responsibilities included maintaining the account code structure of the contract, invoicing, and supporting the capital requirements of the contract, among several other tasks. A highlight was shadowing the UKI CEO of IBM, David Stokes.
The Placement has motivated me to apply for Finance Graduate Schemes. I feel it has put me in a position where I am able to apply to the top/best companies with more confidence & experience behind me.”
Forrest – completed placement at Volkswagen Group UK
Name: Forrest Maciborsky
Role & Department: Learning & Development Coordinator, Human Resources
Employer: Volkswagen Group UK
“Prior to starting University I was working for a Canadian airline and was able to shadow different departments. I decided that HR was the best fit for me which is why I chose to study Business Management with HR.
For my placement year I was working for Volkswagen Group UK, which is a German car manufacturing company. As the manufacturing occurs in Germany, Volkswagen UK HQ focuses on the Sales & Marketing with approximately 800 head count employees. The role of the Learning & Development team is to help employees meet their development needs for either their current role or roles they aspire for. More specifically, I had the responsibility to facilitate monthly inductions for all new starters which gave me lots of exposure to the brand.
I am researching other organisations that offer graduate schemes, because although I have really enjoyed HR, I have decided that I would like to gain experience in other areas of business as well.”
Marco – completed placement at BP Oil International Ltd
Name: Marco Vallozzi
Role & Department: Crude Oil Negotiator, Operations
Employer: BP Oil International Limited
“I study Business Economics BSc Honours. Prior to joining BP trading I had interned at Marriott International and will be joining Aon next summer for a summer internship in insurance consulting.
BP Integrated supply and trading is the market-facing component of our trading activities. Its role is to enhance performance and maximize group value for our assets through distinctive supply, commodity trading, risk management , underpinned by a world-class finance and compliance infrastructure. I worked in the operations team where I gained exposure to the foundation structure that ensures the safe and effective physical delivery of commodities takes place. I also worked in the analytics department thanks to which I adopted the economics knowledge gained in University.
Given the experience accumulated I would like to continue my career within the trading/financial services world hence joining Aon in insurance consulting for a summer internship will only help me enhance my skills set further.”
Sabha – completed placement at Microsoft UK
Name: Sabha Chaudhry
Role & Department: Sales & Operational Support, Small & Mid-Market Solution & Partners Group (SMSP)
“I study International Business Management. Before my placement I used to work at Thames Water as an Administrator which led me to want to work in a global organisation like Microsoft.
Microsoft is a global technology company. I worked in the partner sales team in which I helped implement processes used in order to increase revenue for Microsoft through their partner network. I also helped run sales floor days and manage processes for the UK subsidiary in order to help account managers hit their sales targets. I also managed a team called GetOn as a stretch project in which we went out to schools to influence the next generation about careers in technology. I was also given the opportunity to represent Microsoft at their largest annual events such as Future Decoded.
My plans for the future are based around my placement. For example, working in one of the leading companies across the globe has given me the aspiration to continue to work in a global company.”
Sonia – completed placement at Grant Thornton
Name: Sonia Ali
Role & Department: Public Sector Audit Associate, Public Sector Audit
Employer: Grant Thornton
“The course I am studying towards is Accounting with Management. My aspirations were always to go into accountancy, and specifically Public Sector Audit.
The organisation I have completed my placement with is Grant Thornton UK LLP, who are one of the world’s leading organisations of independent advisory, tax and audit firms. Grant Thornton help dynamic organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, forward looking
advice. Their underlying purpose is to build a vibrant economy, based on trust and integrity in markets, dynamic businesses, and communities where businesses and people thrive. As an auditor we provide an opinion on whether financial statements are correctly stated and carry out relevant testing.
My future aspirations are to return to Grant Thornton after graduating as a Public Sector Audit graduate associate, and study towards m professional qualification to becoming a Chartered Accountant.”
Trang – completed placement at Yull
Name: Trang Nguyen
Role & Department: Marketing Assistant, Marketing
“I study Marketing Communications. Prior to the placement year I aspired to work in the fashion industry within Marketing. If you secure a placement my advice to you would be not be afraid to ask for more work, get creative with your assignments and volunteer for things outside your comfort zone.
Working in a start-up shoe brand named Yull I was able to take on a variety of tasks and developed various skills. I learnt about all areas of the business and how it operates. I also had the chance to attend events, even outside of the UK, and meet with contacts in the industry. Having the opportunity to launch my own nail polish line for the brand, I have seen every single process and learned to deal with challenges along the way.
The variety has allowed me to understand what I can do best, enjoy doing and vice versa. After this placement, I’d love to continue working in this industry.”