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Megan Downes

CEBE placement profile

2020 was the year that virtual learning, working and studying became reality. This new ‘virtual’ reality also extended to students carrying out work placements as part of their course, and some of our students were still able to network with employers and gain experience - despite not being able to attend physically.

We spoke to BSc (Hons) Property, Development and Planning student, Megan about her experience completing a virtual work placement at Gerald Eve LLP, an award-winning real estate advisory business to a variety of sectors.

How did you find this placement?

I originally emailed Gerald Eve to enquire about whether they were offering any work experience opportunities. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances throughout the year, they were not accepting placement students but the head of recruitment allowed me to send across my CV and application for future consideration. I was then invited to their virtual work experience week instead.

What attracted you to this opportunity?

I was keen to acquire some work experience before my final year of study and wanted an insight into what options I had post university. I was also incredibly impressed that they were offering this, as I had previously emailed many other companies who did not offer this opportunity.

What did the virtual placement involve?

They ran multiple sessions throughout the day. These sessions included giving us an insight in the day in the life of a graduate, the range of schemes they have on offer and tips on applying for work experience opportunities and job roles. Some of the sessions were run by recent graduates and we had the opportunity to ask them questions, which was very helpful; especially knowing that we would be in this position in the near future! 

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Which platforms did you use in order to complete your placement?

Microsoft Teams was the main platform for everyday communication. It enabled me to talk with the team throughout the work day, and have video calls for virtual meetings. Of course, Outlook was also a necessity to send emails to the team.

What was the highlight of the experience?

Meeting recent graduates and getting advice on next steps after completing your degree as well as applying for jobs was very helpful. Also, gaining an insight into the company and what they had to offer allowed me to get information about future opportunities.

What advice would you give to students who may be considering applying for a virtual placement?

 It’s definitely worthwhile! It provides you with a good step into the world of work. It’s less daunting then face to face work and still enables you to meet potential employers. It’s never too early to begin networking and gaining work experience. It can also lead to bigger opportunities. For example, I followed Gerald Eve on LinkedIn to keep up with new opportunities, attended this virtual work experience week and now I have been forwarded onto the second stage of the graduate scheme. My advice is, don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves – reach out to organisations online and create a professional portfolio.