Portrait photograph of: Sam Harper

Sam Harper

Country Of Origin: United Kingdom

Degree: BSc Hons Economics (Placement), 2017

Sam completed his placement as a Financial Analyst with Johnson & Johnson.

I chose to take a placement year because I knew that it would add a lot of value onto my CV when applying for graduate jobs. I knew that it would make me more motivated in my final year, and that I would learn valuable time-management skills. It would give me an advantage when applying to graduate roles, as I have already been through the application process once, and I have already got one year’s work experience on my CV.

My role was to provide support to the marketing department, to ensure that they would stick to their budget, and help them to manage their costs. I loved this part of my job, as it meant that I got to communicate with a lot of people from different nationalities and enabled me to learn about different cultures, which is great for me, as I’m a keen traveller. I would contact people in Switzerland, Spain, France amongst others. I was also responsible for reporting sales figures for the relevant countries. Each month I created reports that show how many sales we have had, per country and per brand. These reports were then shown to senior management, and presented by senior figures. I enjoyed this part of my job, as it enabled me to see how certain countries were doing, and how certain brands were doing. It is interesting to link a country’s performance to what is happening in the news, or even to track a brand as a new advertising campaign is released. My placement experience has been invaluable to me. It has enabled me to take a step back from university and find out what employers are really looking for in a new employee. When you start your placement you will quickly realise that there is no safety net. It is a very challenging year, but it is also the most rewarding experience that I’ve ever had. I’ve been able to develop these skills and better myself as a result. Going on a placement year makes you more mature, more confident, and significantly improves your work ethic. These are qualities that I will definitely take into my final year.

My team were very keen to aid my development. There had been many occasions where they went out of their way to show me new systems and to help me with my own projects. They also included me on projects which they were working on, to enable me to widen my skillset, even though this may have been more time-consuming for them. One of the most important things that I learnt during my placement was how to effectively manage my time, and work for long periods of time. I have also improved on my ability to meet deadlines and to deal with work, at times of high pressure and stress.

I utilised the services that the LUMS Careers team offered. I regularly attended the practise interview sessions, and CV drop-ins that they held. The practice interview sessions and drop-in clinics proved invaluable. The most useful service that the careers team offered me was due to their great relations with employers. Johnson & Johnson came onto campus to do the first round of the application process, which was a massive help for me. It enabled me to apply, and get to an assessment centre, without ever leaving campus.