Everything you need to know about placement years and internships

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Work experience is one of the most crucial parts of getting a graduate job when you finish university. Employers often look for experience in the industry you are applying for on your CV and internships and placements are a great way to gain that experience.

The difference between internships and placements

Internships offer short term work experience and are usually fixed for a period between a couple of weeks to a year depending on the employer. They are usually undertaken by students and graduates over the summer months and are a great way to get experience in a particular area you are interested in. If you’re not sure what industry you want to work in, completing internships is a great way for you to find out what excites you and therefore what you would like to pursue long term.

Placement years on the other hand are taken as part of your degree. You will work for a year gaining industry experience relevant to your degree and this will see you receiving academic credits that can impact your overall university results.

When to start looking for internships and placements

It is best to start looking for placements as soon as you begin your second year of university. This will allow you the longest time possible to look and secure a placement, and you will not feel added pressure to find one towards the second and third semesters when exam season comes. Companies also often begin posting placement positions around October/November, so it is good to be ahead of the game.

The same goes for internships where you will see employers seeking applications around October/November time, however you will be able to search and apply for internships all year round.

How have internships and placements changed

Since the beginning of the pandemic, placements and internships had to alter slightly with businesses acting quickly to offer virtual work experience opportunities to students and graduates. Whilst we have slowly seen businesses resume office working, employers have taken into account the positives of remote working. It may be that an internship or placement is either fully remote, meaning you won’t have to travel to an office, or they may offer hybrid ways of working where you’ll spend a certain amount of days in the office and the rest working from home. This has opened up more opportunities for those who aren’t able to travel or relocate. Be sure to check what the job description says or ask for clarity of the ways of working in an interview.

Where to find internship and placement opportunities

You can find loads of opportunities here on graduate-jobs.com. Search for internships and placements here.

Or you can speak with your university career services who will be able to offer further advice on finding the right internship or placement for you.