Work placements are excellent ways of gaining work experience in the UK. However, there can sometimes be confusion among students as to what a placement actually means and whether it is worth it.
A work placement can go by many names in the UK, such as "industrial placement" or "sandwich placement". In essence they are all related to gaining work experience with an employer. The main differences are usually in relation to the placement structure, length of time, and timing of the placement, i.e. during / after your studies.
The benefits of undertaking a placement during your degree are numerous. You get the opportunity to work for a UK employer and gain practical job skills in addition to getting a taste of the working culture in the UK. This is great for your CV and will make you a more attractive candidate when you attempt to get your first job after studying, even more so if your placement is directly related to your degree.
Some placements are also paid, so this is an added benefit if you are an international student in the UK.
What is the recruitment process like?
Gaining a work placement can be as competitive as applying for a real job. You will have competition from other undergraduates in your sector, however some industrial placements are organised as part of your course by your University and may be allocated to you. (You should check these details when applying for your course).
If you are thinking of applying for a placement separately then you should prepare yourself for the recruitment process. It is common now for more employers to request a CV/application form, a face to face interview and some, even a day of assessment at one of their centres. You should treat this as though you are applying for a full time permanent position and prepare yourself accordingly.
How do I find a Work Placement?
If you do not go for an industrial placement, or one is not available on your course then you have a few ways to find a suitable placement.
1.) To use job search websites
There are numerous job search websites in the UK that advertise placement vacancies on behalf of companies some well-known ones are:
2.) To attend graduate recruitment fairs
Graduate recruitment fairs are a great place to find out about work placements. You get a chance to meet face to face with HR professionals from organisations looking to fill their placements with graduates.
3.) Make a list of companies by sector
This may be the most time consuming was of sourcing work placements, but it can also be the most rewarding as some companies will only advertise on their own site. You will need to search for organisations in your desired sector, make a list, and systematically go to each their websites to check for placement opportunities.
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