Our comprehensive guide to perfect placements

You've probably heard a lot about placements, but has anyone actually told you what they are? If not, we're here to lend a hand. Scroll down to learn why placements are the key to success and how you can nail one.

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What is a student placement?

The humble placement has a number of different guises, including 'Sandwich Placement', 'Industrial Placement', 'Placement Year', 'Year In Industry', 'Year-long Internship' and probably a few more besides!

However, they all essentially mean the same thing, so for the purpose of this section of the website, we'll just call them placements!

Placements are normally structured programmes or schemes where you spend an entire academic year working for an organisation as a full-time member of staff, before returning to university for your final year. They generally take place after your second year at university and provide students with the opportunity to gain all-important work experience and employability skills before graduating. For many degrees they are optional, but for some it is a compulsory component of the university course.

“Research shows that without work experience 52% of graduate employers rate your chances of receiving a job offer as 'not very likely”

Current placement vacancies

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Why should I do a placement?

Enhancing your career

Firstly it allows you to get a step ahead on the graduate career ladder. As more and more students look to university to further their career, the importance of work experience has never been greater.

If you’ve got your heart set on working in Investment Banking (71%), Law (51%), Media (49%) or Finance (43%), you might end up being heartbroken without previous work experience; the percentages next to each reflect the number of vacancies that are taken up by previous undergraduate employees.

Enhancing your career

Giving practical experience

Gaining some real world corporate experience of how the theory on your course applies in a practical business environment is invaluable.

These experiences will aid your ability to understand, problem solve, work in teams and communicate across a number of different business areas, with different individuals from different backgrounds. These skills gained on placement will stand you in good stead for your final year studies and when applying for graduate roles.

Giving practical experience

Building contacts

Firstly it allows you to get a step ahead on the graduate career ladder. As more and more students look to university to further their career, the importance of work experience has never been greater.

If you’ve got your heart set on working in Investment Banking (71%), Law (51%), Media (49%) or Finance (43%), you might be heartbroken without previous work experience, as the percentages next to each reflect the number of vacancies that are taken up by previous undergraduate employees.

Building contacts

Where can I get advice

There are a number of places to get advice about placement years both online and off. Take a look at our industry guides, which offer additional advice about specific sectors; whether you're looking to work in Real Estate or Retail there's loads of information floating around to help you out.

Also don't forget about our advice videos on CV writing and interview skills, which you can find in our video guides section. Finally, you can contact us on Twitter (@RateMyPlacement) and leave a question for our own placement students.

View advice articles

What other resources are there?

Top Employers Guide

Every year we put together our Top Employers Guide. This beauty features the best employers from various industries, as well as case studies from students that have worked for them.

You can gain an amazing insight from these case studies as well our industry guides, which can help you gain better understand on the best placement and industry for your career path.

View top employers guide
Top employers guide

Industry zones

We try to be as helpful as possible when it comes to helping you choose the best career path. Our industry zones highlight different paths you can take and look at the skill sets you need to possess in order to get a job in your chosen field. We also have case studies from previous placement students to help you decide.

View industry zones
Industry zones

Browse reviews

We’ve got more than 25,000 reviews that can help you gain better insight into a particular job role or company, as well as seeing whether you would be happy with the particular working style and culture a of company. This can be useful when writing your applications and short listing potential jobs.

Browse reviews
Browse reviews

When do I need to start applying

It really does depend upon what industry you are interested in; naturally different jobs and different companies advertise their vacancies at different times, although the old adage 'the earlier the better' certainly rings true!

Remember, your first year grades and UCAS points will be taken into account when applying for placements, so while you’re partying during freshers’ week, remember that first year counts!

Many of our clients begin advertising their vacancies from September, therefore the time to apply is right at the beginning of second year. Demand is high for placements, because placement years are increasingly popular, making early applications vital.

You can track all your applications from CV through to assessment centre with our application tracker, click the button below to learn more. Go on, you know you want to...

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