If you're looking for a career in the business industry, we've got all you need to know about what opportunities are out there, how and when to apply.
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What business areas can students work in?
The truth is that business covers pretty much everything. The vast majority of jobs can, in some way, be defined as 'business' jobs. When you think of the world of business, you'd be forgiven for thinking of men and women dressed in smart suits and working in huge glass buildings.
However, the reality is that business is a sector that's split up into many sub-sectors, from advertising and FMCG to public relations and sales. As such, the roles that exist in this industry are extremely diverse.
Top Business Placements, Internships & Insights
What are the benefits to students of doing placements and internships?
Competition for graduate business roles is tough, especially if you leave university with no practical work experience. The benefit of undertaking a placement or internship is that you can gain real-world experience while you're still an undergraduate, meaning that when you graduate you'll already have many of the skills that companies are looking for.
"Graduate starting salaries at the UK’s leading graduate employers have a median starting salary of £30,000" The Graduate Market in 2019
The benefits of a career in business
Transferable skills are often referred to as soft skills, and are relevant to careers in many sectors and job roles. So if you start a career in business, you’ll have the skills to change careers and enter a completely different industry. Most undergraduates (and graduates) aren’t entirely sure what career they want to pursue - but getting a job in business will after university you can pick up some valuable skills and experience while you decide what to do long-term
It’s an exciting career!
The business sector is an incredibly exciting sector work in, as the subheading suggested. Imagine the thrills of making your first sale, battling your competitors for the upper hand in the market or growing an organisation from a local shop to a global superstore. In addition, you’ll be challenged on a daily basis - companies employ interns and placements students to contribute to the business, not make the tea for poor chap who makes the coffee.
Opportunities to work abroad
A career in business will give you the opportunity to live and work abroad, if you so wish. There isn’t a nation on earth that doesn’t have a business industry - even . Large companies have offices all over the world, so there is a real chance that you’ll be able to travel to different locations, or move abroad permanently.
What are business internships?
A business internship is a set period of time that you will spend with a company, working for it and taking on real business tasks that any other employee would be expected to undertake. As a result, you'll be expected to hit the ground running and get stuck into important business projects from the very first day.
This may seem like a big ask if you're still an undergraduate, but the whole point of work experience like this is to help you develop your business intelligence and learn what you need to do to cope in a professional environment.
Student internships tend to take place in the summer months inbetween your years at university, allowing you to earn whilst you learn before you go back to academia. Most internships are aimed at second years, but first and third years may also apply to some schemes.
Are business internships only based in London?
While London is considered to be a business hub, because it is the largest city in the UK and where many companies have their headquarters, there are still plenty of other opportunities for students around the country.
For example, previous interns have worked for Centrica in Leicester, PwC in Glasgow and even as far as Enterprise Rent-A-Car in California, US. If you want to get an idea of where you can undertake an undergraduate business internship, take a look at our review pages.
These include thousands of authentic, peer-to-peer reviews written by previous business interns, giving you an idea of which companies run the best programmes.
What business internships are available in 2022?
Undergraduates are spoilt for choice when it comes to business internships in 2022, as there are work experience programmes available with a diverse range of companies and within many different business disciplines.
For example, there are paid opportunities available in roles like financial risk management, logistics, investment consultancy, applied intelligence, operational management and purchasing, among many others.
The advantage of undertaking one of these business internships while still a student is that you'll develop your commercial awareness before you've even graduated, while also being able to challenge yourself and show that you are a motivated, ambitious individual. To see what business roles are currently open to undergraduates, check out our business job search.
What are business placements?
Business placements are extended periods of time that undergraduates spend working for a company, as opposed to business internships which, as described above, generally last for between eight and 12 weeks.
Sandwich placements, or placement years, can last for up to nine or 12 months, and generally form part of a four-year university degree course (slotting in between the second and fourth (final) year). The advantage of undertaking one of these longer work experience programmes is that, evidently, you get more time working for a company and therefore more of a chance to work on important projects and develop your skills.
Roles that previous business placement students have worked in include technology marketing, analysis, a commercial department, business restructuring, e-business and management training.
Business management placements: what can you do?
Lots of business management placements will allow you to become involved in important business tasks that will prepare you for a life in a certain industry, if you choose to go into it after you graduate.
For instance, depending on the role you get involved in, you may be asked to gather and analyse data, work as part of the supply chain, meet with clients and report to senior team members, run a branch of the company (mainly in terms of retail), deal with customer issues or work as part of the insolvency and restructuring team. Put simply, you'll have plenty to keep you occupied.
Insight schemes are primarily designed for first years, but are available for all undergraduates. They last anywhere between one and ten days, and take place during the easter break in April.
A business insight will give you a short but valuable peek into a company, their culture and what it’s like to work there. Employers use insight schemes to unearth talent in first and second year students, and find future candidates for their internship, placement and graduate schemes.
Due to the brevity of these programmes, the content of insights are quite different to business placements and internships. On an insight, you might take part in one or two of the following activities:
- Short projects
- Learning how the business operates
- Work shadowing
- Integrations into different teams
How to find the best business employers?
There are hundreds of companies out there that offer placements and internships for undergraduates, so it can be confusing when you're searching and trying to find the best company for you. That's why we exist, to help you find the very best work experience programmes.
As well as checking out our Best Student Employers table, to see which companies received the most positive reviews from students, you can also browse our reviews too.
There we list more than 60,000 authentic and trustworthy reviews for a huge number of work experience providers across a huge number of business areas, so if you want to know what a particular company is like to work for, you can find out there. To make it even easier, you can also split up your review search by the programme type, industry and location.
HR internships & placements
What is HR?
Human resources is a term that gets thrown around a lot, often without a lot of explanation about what it actually is. Put simply, HR professionals are needed by every company, from the smallest to the largest, as they look after many essential business tasks. This could involve working with managers to decide on the company's hiring strategy, to organising team events, to arranging training and carrying out interviews.
What are HR internships?
Human resources internships are a great way to experience what it's like to work as part of a company's HR department and what's required to be successful in this career. For example, on an HR internship for a large, multinational company, you'll be handed real responsibility in order to add value. This could entail improving the working environment for existing employees and making sure they're motivated, to supporting to recruitment team and bringing in candidates who can help the company grow and thrive.
What are the benefits of doing HR internships?
As an undergraduate or HR intern, you'll benefit from developing your managerial skills – not just when it comes to managing your own time and workload, but also when it comes to managing others and getting the best out of them.
What are HR placements?
An HR placement can last for up to 12 months, therefore offering you a very detailed insight into the role and the sector.
Below is an extract from GSK’s guide to their HR placement, explaining what candidates can expect from the scheme:
"You’ll be able to use and develop your business skills in a busy HR environment, while seeing the workings of a diverse global organisation at first hand. We offer a wide variety of HR placements in graduate recruitment, leadership and organisational development, HR services, coaching and ViiV Healthcare – an independent company in which we partner with Pfizer to address the needs of those living with AIDS."GSK (2018)
Sales internships & placements
Many companies offer students the chance to get involved in sales placements. A lot of sales roles aren't purely about 'sales' though, as strange as that sounds. In fact, lots of sales placements crossover with other key business areas, like analysis, finance or marketing. On sales work experience, you'll probably be tasked with speaking with the company's existing clients and managing relationships, as well as managing your own sales project and suggesting sales leads (e.g. new business clients).
What is a sales internship like?
If you want to get a taste of what working in a sales environment is like, and therefore find out whether it's the right career for you, it's a good idea to complete a sales internship while you're still an undergraduate. You'll also be able to develop important skills, such as good communication and the ability to build relationships (which is crucial in sales and business development).
What skills do you need to succeed in sales?
Sales is one of the most competitive career paths you can follow, so there are some skills and traits that you absolutely must have in order to succeed. These include:
- Listening – clients like being offered solutions that match their needs, so you have to be able to listen to what they want before offering a service
- Managing relationships – senior sales people have to manage countless clients and spend time building and maintaining relationships in order to be successful
- Having the right attitude – in sales you need confidence, without straying into arrogance
- Resilience – this career is all about targets, so if you miss out on something, you have to get back up and try again
- Research – to sell effectively, you have to know what it is you're selling, the market you're selling it in and who you're selling it to. How are you going to know this without researching?
These are only a few of the skills that sales people need, so make sure you do your research on what's expected.
Project management internships & placements
What is project management?
People who work in project management oversee key projects that are important to the company's success, as well as managing other team members and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same end goal.
What will you learn on project management internships?
The work you'll be doing on a project management internship does largely depend on what the company does and what sector it operates in, but broadly-speaking project managers typically develop and plan strategies, offer reports to stakeholders, attend company-wide strategy meetings, motivate their team members and manage budgets.
Where can you find student jobs?
If want to open the door to your future business career, it's a great idea to undertake a placement or internship and gain some real business experience. Here at RateMyPlacement we advertise hundreds of fantastic work experience opportunities at great companies, so don't miss out. Take a look now to see what student jobs are available and how to apply.
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