“There is no better alternative to actually gaining experience in a particular field to find out what you do and don’t like.”

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Rob Miller, Sony Pictures Entertainment (2013/14)

BA Economics and Politics with Industrial Placement

After sending off lots of applications for industrial placements without success, Rob decided to try a different approach.

“Like most people applying for placements, I started off going down the traditional route, applying for internship programmes with a number of different organisations. By the time I’d received a few rejections at different stages of the process, I decided to go and see the Careers Team for some advice. They helped me develop a strategy for targeting companies speculatively, which is something most students don’t consider doing.

Using my network of family and friends, I started following up leads and contacts. One of the companies I got in touch with was Sony, and after a few email exchanges with a contact there – where I did my best to put forward a persuasive case for employing me – they agreed to give me an interview and put together an informal placement for me.

I was taken on to work specifically for Sony Pictures Entertainment in their finance optimisation team. As an internal management consulting team, our job was to look at how to improve processes and increase efficiencies within the business. This often involved looking at how to make financial savings using different financial arrangements such as offshoring.

I was based in London in Sony Pictures Entertainment’s European HQ, but I also got the chance to travel to Los Angeles where the main Hollywood Studios are based. I spent six weeks there, which was definitely one of the highlights, both on a personal and professional level. It was probably also one of the most challenging aspects of the placement as we were working on a very sensitive project, which involved long hours and a lot of pressure. But it was a chance to get great exposure to the business and to senior management, and it was fantastic to be able to get to know, and learn from, senior business leaders. 

I have no doubt that the placement will help me tremendously in my career. As well as allowing me to develop transferable skills and build a network, it’s also given me the opportunity to learn more about what I want to do later. I now know that I’d like to go into management consulting and focus more on advising clients externally, rather than just internally like at Sony. There is no better alternative to actually gaining experience in a particular field to find out what you do and don’t like.

If I can offer any advice to anyone applying for placements, it would be to persevere through rejections and also to tap into your network. As my experience has shown, speculative applications can be an effective strategy for securing a placement. Once you have secured one, the only real advice I can give is to be enthusiastic as possible – you only have a year to prove your worth to the company.”