Graduate placements are important in illustrating how the theory learnt in the lecture theatre, translates into a real-world business. A good graduate placement can help form opinions, give genuine insight and possibly mould your thoughts on a future career.

A bad one may mean that your know exactly which part of the photocopier to kick when the paper feed jams; you can remember ten tea and coffee orders without writing them down, but your understanding of how a business works hasn’t move on one iota.

Business Management student, Laura Slater, 20, who studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, has undertaken her graduate placement at Crewe based, family owned, Swansway Motor Group and believes she’s learnt much about what makes a business tick in the commercial world.

We spoke to Laura about her experience at Swansway Motor Group.

What were your expectations before your placement started?

To be honest I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I think most students going to their first placement feel much the same; will I like where I’m going; will they like me, will I be able to get involved or will I be a glorified tea-maker. It’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but as soon as I arrived in the Marketing Department I was made to feel right at home and they had real projects in place for me.

What did you get involved in?

Straight away I joined a project team refining the bullying and harassment policy which involved a lot of research. I found it fascinating as it’s not an area I’ve ever really thought about before; the process of researching, distilling, refining and then writing a bespoke policy for Swansway was really interesting and very enjoyable.

I also worked in developing a new Welcome Pack for new employees across the group; what was interesting was the time and thought that went into this.

Swansway has more than 20 dealerships, learning how the Marketing team coped with generating and responding on 117 different social media accounts for all the sites was mind-boggling! It’s definitely not like posting your own snapchat or insta stories and takes serious organisation and concentration.

I wrote and edited content for the group’s website, learnt how to upload and format pages and found the whole experience challenging, but genuinely interesting.

Any other projects?

As a young person in education I was asked to chat with apprentices across the group and get their feedback on what was good and what was not so good about their apprenticeship. To do this I learnt all about the apprenticeship scheme and how it works for both the apprentices and the employer. I feel like I’ve learned so many new things which will really help me, not just with my course, but in applying for roles in the future.

The second part of my placement was at Crewe Audi, working in one of the dealerships was a real eye-opener too. I now know the whole process of ordering a brand new car, right from the Sales Exec selling it through to customer hand-over. It’s so much more involved than you would ever imagine and I thoroughly enjoyed getting ‘backstage’ in a car showroom.

I’ve just started in the HR Department and I’m looking forward to learning all kinds of new things there before I finish my placement back in Marketing.

How’ve you found the whole experience?

I’ve loved it! I’ve learnt so much, about business in general, about how all the departments need to work together and met so many different people, doing different jobs. I’ve also made a new best friend, my work wife, Maria!

The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that communication across departments is the key to building success and I feel really fortunate that everyone at Swansway went out of their way to give me so much help and support.

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