Usually, an industrial placement will be part of your degree. On some courses industrial placements are compulsory. On others you may be allowed to organise your own placement year or to choose to do a placement as one of your modules. If the work placement is a part of your degree course, it is likely that it will be formally assessed or accredited. The type of assessments will vary depending on the course and the structure of the placement.
Placements vary in length. Many university courses include a compulsory “sandwich year” or the opportunity to choose to complete one. This means that the placement will be between 9 and 12 months long and will take place between the second and final years of your degree. Some placements can be undertaken during university holidays, lasting between one and three months. Others involve working one day a week over a period of time, alongside your university studies.
If a placement is an electable degree module, it is unlikely that it will be paid. If, however, it is a “sandwich year” or a few months long, it may very well be paid anything up to a couple of grand a month.
Industrial experience offers you the opportunity to understand working life. You will be working as part of a team with your own tasks, responsibilities, deadlines and goals. Therefore, you will gain an invaluable set of transferrable skills.
More particularly, you will understand the industry, organisation and role in which you are working. You will be better equipped to choose which specific jobs to apply for following graduation and you will also gain many of the skills that they demand, especially if you remain within your chosen industry. Furthermore, the placement might help you obtain that all-elusive first professional reference. On top of all of this, you may very well be getting paid a decent salary.
How to Find a Placement:
Your university careers service will be able to help you find a placement. If you are on a course where it is compulsory you will have a placement tutor to help you arrange everything. Placements may be as competitive as applying for a permanent job with many companies holding formal interviews and assessment centre days.