The Importance of Reflection: Industrial Placement to Full-Time Role
According to recent statistics, more than half of the UK’s top employers now offer industrial placements to undergraduate students for a period of six to twelve months. From the employer’s perspective, such opportunities are put forward with a view to train and hopefully retain their placement students in the long run. Indeed, around one in three employees at these companies have previously undertaken some form of employment at the company itself prior to landing a full-time role. As for the student, my own experience has shown me that pursuing a placement can yield certain important benefits: the chance to explore your career choices and receive first-hand experience in a professional context, and the opportunity to develop a strong commercial awareness. What’s more, it provides an enviable possibility to network with various professionals outside the congenial comfort zone of the university bubble.
For my penultimate year of study, I was faced with a choice: either apply for an industrial placement or enroll in an exchange program at a university abroad. To be sure, the prospect of spending a year at college in the U.S or Australia was a tantalizing idea, and I don’t think I’m alone in seeing the appeal of it. Nevertheless, I ultimately decided to join AlphaSights in the summer of 2013 for a nine-month placement within the consulting segment of the firm. Upon reflection, it proved to be a great choice, as I was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time Associate position upon graduation. I was then confronted with a dilemma which I believe is common to students who have previously undertaken placements; namely, the question of whether to return to the same company at which you completed your placement or look to join a different company altogether.
For some, it may be a case of determining whether their placement served as a starting point to a career with the same company, a relevant stepping-stone on to something else within the same industry or as a learning experience from which to pursue a change in career path. My outlook was slightly different. It was a matter of weighing up the challenges presented by joining another company against the new challenges I would face by returning to AlphaSights. It is, to my mind, the identification of these challenges between your options that is most important for those facing a similar situation as they enter a full-time job after their studies.
While I assessed my options and explored a variety of potential opportunities, the temptation to embark upon brand new challenges remained strong. However, by critically evaluating the new challenges I would be confronted with versus a return to AlphaSights, the decision was made easier. AlphaSights has experienced impressive growth since my placement and, as such, presented me with an opportunity to rejoin a company that was more established and could offer me a role in a new team within the firm. On top of that, having developed the core skills of the role throughout my placement, I was coming to the company with a strong foundation upon which to build, ready to tackle challenges on a greater level.
Essentially, I found myself assessing the challenges that would be faced by starting from scratch somewhere else, or the opportunity to take advantage of the skills previously honed on my placement to pursue more advanced challenges at AlphaSights earlier on.
After rejoining AlphaSights in July 2015, I now sit within the Capital Markets segment of the firm, and work alongside client accounts in the world of credit and distressed debt. In comparison to my placement role within the consulting segment of the business, I am faced with new challenges and learning opportunities, and am able to use my previous experiences to my advantage and build upon them effectively. Although my return may not have been a completely new beginning, the growth of AlphaSights from the time I completed my placement and the chance to work in a different sector of the company has meant an exciting and challenging new platform and the chance to hit the ground running with the foundation of previously learnt core skills.
Ultimately, my message to students in this situation in their final year of study is this: reflect on your previous internships and offers you may have and identify which options will offer a challenge that is most suited to you. It is perhaps easy to assume that returning to a role at the company where you have interned is less of a challenge or perhaps even the definite easier option. However, it is the type of company at hand that is so fundamental to make the right decision. For me, it was AlphaSights' growth during my final year at university, combined with the new opportunities offered upon returning to the company, that have created new challenges in my full-time position which I am excited to tackle. Altogether, this has made my industrial placement an incredible and worthwhile experience and one that I would strongly recommend.
Ross joined AlphaSights as an Industrial Placement student in August 2013 with the Consulting segment of the firm. In July of 2015, Ross returned as a full-time Associate on the Capital Markets team.