Securing an undergraduate placement in the UK: my horror story.

I had long doubted my patience until the day I decided to get a gap year from university, working anywhere associated with what I’m currently studying. It’s been over 5 months since my final year started and over 8 since I got rejected by the organization I placed my last hope on. Part of the rejections I got made me embrace this final lap and part has been chaotic and has eventually pushed me to share this. I believe that there are quite a few or many students who would want to know this stage I didn’t quite conquer.

Firstly, I’m an international student and not to say that interviewers or most organizations or bodies that accept placement students discriminate against international students but let’s be real here. Any country whatsoever would consider taking theirs first before any other unless you are exceptionally suitable/ there isn’t any domestic student available to take that role, then you might just be lucky. Anyway, I had that in mind long before I even started cooking up a CV. Second year resumed September 2015 and my university already started putting up advertisements for the roles linked with Biomedical science, which is what I’m currently studying. It is a broad course involving various health and life sectors, therefore adverts were placed on student central (a learning and assessment medium for most universities in England) nearly everyday.

Some of the successful interviews I had gotten were partly due to the help my university (the University of Brighton) had  rendered. They helped get my CV to look more presentable and appropriate, they constantly sent direct emails to me whenever a new position came up, they always replied to most emails I sent and was always willing to give me advice whenever I needed help. That’s really what they can offer anyway, they can’t hand you a place!, don’t know about other universities but I’m speaking of mine.

Fast forward to when the application war began, bear in mind that 1st semester had  already started and I had 6 modules to cover, each with their coursework and examination so you can imagine keeping up with the stress. Most colleagues of mine weren’t interested, so it was a lot harder to share my pain or have them relate with me on something they were not interested in. I applied to quite a few number of pharmaceutical companies including GSK, Pfizer, Nestle and many more. Some would have you submit your application online, which usually takes a long time and after which you also need to do an online test or even several tests before you get an interview which is not even guaranteed. Pheew! GSK, I remember vividly, doing everything until it got to the online test, after a week or so, I got a nicely written rejection. I did apply also to organizations that supported health science and governmental bodies too, all to no avail. Some won’t even bother to leave you with a rejection, you’ll just be waiting for your saviour to come.  To be honest with you, until today, I can’t tell where my perseverance came from. I kept going with all the piles of rejection. It was really saddening.

After my first semester ended, I was able to convince two of my close friends to get a placement year, sharing with them the benefits and long term joy it would leave them. Thankfully, I had them with me for the rest of the application journey. We were told around April 2016 by our placement team that the NHS affiliated hospital (Royal County Sussex) here in Brighton would be putting up various positions, so we should create a totally different CV that complies to the roles that would be advertised, including in it our choices (ie the roles you wish to work in. For eg. haematology, histology etc). We were more than excited because it is commutable and their acceptance rate from our university is high from statistical indications and also not a lot of us were running for the positions.

This was my final hope so I wrote my CV more than three times, had it checked by different well read people and the placement team too and waited patiently for the D day. My friends did too. It was a few weeks before the exam, the advert came up on student central, I applied and waited. We three had gotten an email saying we got ourselves an interview. I was overly joyed and happier that it was the same day for the three of us. One week before my second semester examination, we had gone for the interview and we all came out smiling and hoping. I began to imagine myself even working there and all, you know how your hormones mess you up, yes! it did to me.

It took nearly a month before we got our feedbacks, my friends had called me with excitement that they had been accepted and they would be resuming soon, screaming that I should check my email, that they should have given me a place too. As I opened my email and read the first line, I just closed the whole link and started weeping. I literally weeped out loud. I felt stupid for having persevered the whole time and placing all that effort I should have focused on my studies on placement places I ended up not getting. I questioned what really interviewers wanted, lies? Till today I can’t really say.

Truth is, some people apply the first time and just get it and others are never lucky. I feel like the criteria for getting a place not just a placement place but for most jobs are not always considered and looked into. Most interviewees who end up not getting a place especially suitable candidates don’t always see fairness in recruitments. I believe a new system of accepting employees should be put in place and also placement applications shouldn’t feel like hell for students. More universities should have affiliates where they can  directly place students that choose to do one. I understand international students (me and the rest of them) here in the UK should know better when we signed up to come here to study that there are limited jobs and opportunities considering the population and how small in comparison the country is , but efforts should be made at least to have us secure affiliate places here or abroad with the fees we pay. Home students too.

This is my horror story.

Are there any questions you want to ask regarding this? Or thoughts you wish to share, let me know in the comment box below or email me using the contact form. Thank you.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. gaurz says:

    Hey! I am an Indian student and applied to study undergraduate pharmacy in the uk this year. How was your experience studying in the uk and living there? Is there any racism?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ipeniwrite says:

    Overall, it’s been amazing. Have had the opportunity to meet students from different cultural backgrounds and countries. You won’t have a problem finding your people here😄, they are in numbers, same as your restaurants too. Living here depending on where you choose to stay can be a bit expensive (London areas), Brighton is too, but it would be less if you live in a rented place with other students or share a flat too. Racism? Uhrm haven’t experienced any. I don’t overly lay my focus on that anyway and universities here are more accepting of international students so you’ll do great. Loads to look forward to! So brace yourself. Goodluck to you 🌸 and thank you for stopping by.

    Like

  3. gaurz says:

    Thanks for the generous comment! That was so helpful. I am so nervous about going there and the life. Haven’t ever lived outside Mumbai. Yes I have heard of a lot of Indiana studying there hahah. How’s the education? Do you notice any difference? Also which country are you from?
    By the way, your blog is really nice!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ipeniwrite says:

    No worries dear🌸. It’s standard of course, the education. Requires a lot of independence and at the same time asking questions and for help when you need one. It’s going to be totally different from what you’ve always known from home but you’ll definitely adapt considering that pharmacy is a 5 year course. You’ve got plenty of time dear to explore the educational system. I’m Nigerian and the first time I came here I couldn’t use any Microsoft package but now I’m an intermediate in at least two😁. Everything about me got better so don’t panic. You’ll be fine, just be open to learning and the experiences when you arrive 😊. Thank you for your commentary 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

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