This year, business placements took place in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Our students travelled to major cities across each country to take on work-based opportunities with globally recognised organisations including Coca-Cola, Galaxy Communications, Grant Thornton, Nestle, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, Vietnam Airlines and Unilever.
We asked the students to reflect on their business placement experiences, tell us about the skills they strengthened, what they enjoyed the most and if they had any advice to offer those thinking of applying in 2020.
All our placement students listed a wide range of skills they felt they acquired or improved upon as a result of the business placements. Many students noticed an improvement in their communication skills, whether it was via written tasks such as press releases and web articles, or verbal communications with colleagues both at work and during social events.
For many, interacting with people also helped increase their confidence. Rida, who completed a placement with Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, said:
I gained so much confidence from interacting with lots of people within the organisation and outside the organisation, which will be helpful for me in my personal and professional life ahead.
Everyone was tasked with a variety of responsibilities during their placement. Research was frequently mentioned as a common project. Whether it was analysing information on the industry landscape or collating internal data on financial partners.
The most common piece of advice from all our business placement students was to apply and go for it. Ammar, who was placed with Nestlé was particularly emphatic, saying:
I would urge all students to apply to this program in the respective companies they wish to apply, as there are many options with industry leading companies. Every student who is fortunate enough to acquire a business placement will have an opportunity to jumpstart his/her professional career and it will help greatly in gaining future permanent jobs.
Among other skills, students discovered opportunities to improve their knowledge with various software. From increasing proficiency through daily use of Microsoft Office programs such as Excel, to training in lesser known software. Anusavi, whose business placement is with Unilever, said:
“I’m handling a project that deals with Master Data Cleansing. I'm mastering different systems and software that I was not aware of previously.”
Research was also a common duty in Sri Lanka, and often went hand-in-hand with presenting or communicating the results to their colleagues. Seyed, placed in Coca-Cola, was tasked with conducting field audits and said:
After every concluded audit, I would draft a report in order to send a summary of the audit to the Head of ICM. By constantly drafting reports, I have become more proficient.
Many students said their favourite aspect of their business placement was the chance to experience the company’s workplace culture. Seyed added that:
“Being a part of the team has helped me gain exposure to every department in a short period of time and also being appreciated by the Country Management Team for all the effort we have put in.”
Anusavi also commented:
My fellow interns, senior staffs and even the colleagues in my department are humble and are making the experience so enjoyable.
Our students listed a wide range of skills they felt they had acquired or expanded upon as a result of the business placements.
Elysia, who enjoyed her time with Galaxy Communications, credits being ‘in a foreign country where I am unfamiliar with the language and culture’ as improving her resourcefulness. She also noticed an increase in her analytical thinking abilities. Elysia said:
To be able to think big and far ahead helped me to view the work from a more holistic perspective, to think from the client's point of view and the consumer's point of view. Being perceptive is definitely a good skill to have in whichever industry I enter in future.
Many companies offered placement students the same training that is available to their permanent staff. Fong, who spent three months with Grant Thornton, said:
“I also had the opportunity to participate in the Advisory team's annual training event for five days, together with [other] advisory teams, where we were trained in skills related to transaction advisory services.”
He echoed the sentiments of others in giving his advice and said:
If you are interested in applying, then just do what your heart tells you to. Otherwise, you might regret not taking that leap of faith and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Students commented upon how much they appreciated university support as well as the encouragement from placement providers. Simply having the opportunity to experience a working environment and see how teams in respective fields worked was rated highly. Pham, who also completed her business placement with Grant Thornton, said:
“My favourite aspects of the placement were that I could be in a professional workplace with experienced staff and they gave me a lot of useful advice for my studying and career path.”
All our students, across the various cities, told us how much they enjoyed their placements, and how much they feel they benefited from them.
Edwin whose business placement took place with VNG said:
It has been my pleasure to work in VNG, especially in my department. I have gained a lot of new knowledge, experienced a new culture and also gained new friends through this business placement.
Many students feel that the experience gained on their business placements will be an advantage to their future careers. Nguyen Cam Nhat was successful in her placement with Vietnam Airlines and told us:
“I had an amazing time in a real working environment and gained a lot of experience, which will help me in my future career.”
Pham agrees, and adds how thankful she was for the opportunity:
I learnt many things I did not know before, not only improving my skills but also enhancing my knowledge about the industry and more clearly locating my position in the future. I also have been acquainted with lots of nice and lovely people and I am so grateful for everything.
- We received 1,116 applications for business placements in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
- Next year, we aim to increase business placement opportunities in our current territories as well as introduce the scheme in Europe and Malaysia. Please contact us if your company is interested in providing business placements.
- On behalf of our students and the University of London, we would thank all the companies that participated in the Business Placement (2019) scheme:
- Ahmer Bilal Soofi & Co Advocates and Counsels
- Bombay Stock Exchange Limited
- CBRE Vietnam
- Commercial Bank of Ceylon
- D. L. & F. De Saram
- Ernst & Young
- F. J. & G. de Saram
- FM Associates
- Galaxy Communications
- Grant Thornton Vietnam Limited
- HaiderMota & Co.
- Hatch Works Pvt Limited
- Julius & Creasy
- Khalid Anwer & Co.
- Orr, Dignam & Co.
- Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited
- RIAA Barker Gillette
- S&P Global
- Vietnam Airlines
- VNG Corporation
- Thanks to The Careers Group for their support in moderating applications.
- Thanks to Mr Saad Wasim, Regional Advisor South Asia, and British University Vietnam for their facilitation throughout the placement initiative.
- The University of London works with various partners to improve the learning experience of its students by launching new initiatives that benefit its students worldwide.