Hundreds of leading STEM employers on Gradcracker offer placement opportunities ranging from insight events, to summer internships, to year-long placements. These kinds of opportunities enable university students to explore different industry sectors and possible career paths before they graduate.
What’s out there?
Students have the freedom to take part in multiple placements throughout their time at university. Insight events are typically open to a wide range of students and graduates; they can range from a few hours to a couple of weeks long and provide attendees with an insight into a particular company, industry sector, business area, career route and/or role. Insight events can also involve skills sessions and workshops, and provide opportunities to hear from and network with industry professionals.
Many Gradcracker employers provide placement opportunities over the summer months, enabling students to gain work experience without it interrupting their studies. These opportunities are a great way to get a taste of what it would be like to work for a particular company, or in a certain sector. While the majority of summer internships are aimed at second and third-year students, many employers also offer summer internships for first years. The more summer internships you do, the more likely you are to find the career path that is most suited to you.
Certain degree courses include a year-in-industry, which typically sits between your second and third year at university; you may hear them being referred to as ‘sandwich courses’. During these longer 12-month placements, students often have the opportunity to take part in multiple projects, explore various business areas, and maybe even experience different roles.
What’s in it for me?
The experiences you gain throughout your placement(s) – whether a few weeks or several months long – will enable you to identify where you excel, and what you enjoy doing the most. Not only will this provide you with a stronger sense of direction on returning to university – making it easier to select modules and final project/dissertation topics – but it should also give you a better idea of the types of graduate roles you'd like to apply for once you graduate.
Work experience enables students to develop a range of technical and soft skills. Learning how to work with CAD software, developing your presentation skills, getting to grips with agile working, and liaising with clients are just a few examples.
As well as increasing your employability for after you graduate, students often find that they perform better once they return to university. Having experienced a workplace environment, students who have completed a placement are often able to prioritise tasks, manage their time, work to deadlines, and communicate with others more effectively. Furthermore, seeing how the theoretical content of your degree is applied in the real world also helps to consolidate understanding, and will hopefully improve your performance in assessments and exams.
It’s also common for an employer to offer placement students a full-time role once they graduate. Having acquired an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the business – and demonstrated their abilities and potential – former placement students make highly favourable candidates for graduate positions.
Having a job offer on the table removes a significant amount of stress during your final year; without the need to apply for graduate jobs, you can spend more time studying for final exams and assessments.
That said, if you decide the company isn’t for you or you are not offered a graduate position, you will enter the graduate job market with valuable work experience which makes crafting an impressive application a whole lot easier.
Head to our Job Search to find thousands of placement opportunities from leading STEM employers.