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A work placement year is usually spent gaining valuable work/industrial experience during your term at the university. It may be a compulsory element of your curriculum and you could be required to complete it in the middle of your second and final year at university during a sandwich course. You may be assessed and get credit for the year in the industry too.

Work placement is becoming popular these days and is like an extended version of summer internships. Due to the time duration allotted for work placement, the student can take up a role of real responsibility within the industry instead of just observing from the side lines which usually happens during shorter internships.

It is also an ideal opportunity for students to apply their text-book knowledge in the professional work environment and develop skills like teamwork, project management and organizational tactics, which are applicable in the real work setting. It is a unique chance and great learning experience for the amateur fresher to experience the industrial set up first-hand and gain some vital understanding of the everyday workings in the industry.

The work placement may be paid or unpaid, depending on the organization you work for and their policies.

Benefits of work placement

The numerous benefits of a work placement year are as follows:

  • Boost your employability – Acquiring a professional experience before your graduation or post-graduation puts you miles ahead of the competition during your job search after you finish your degree.
  • Chance to apply your academic knowledge directly in the workplace and develop skills like teamwork and presenting of your ideas in a structured manner.
  • Gain perspective for your career roadmap – Industrial experience prior to a permanent job helps you understand your choices in a better manner.
  • Build a social and professional network – Working in an organization helps you network better and build professional relations with people of all ages and life stages. This kind of exposure makes you a well-rounded person. Also, the professional contacts you build will assist in your future job search or the organization itself might offer you a job post your studies.

How to arrange a work placement

If the work placement is part of your course, you may be directly allocated an organization to undertake the industrial year.

If this is not the case, then you need to find the organization on your own. Students should first contact the career advisors at their university as they have a huge database of employers and alumni students.

The career advisors on campus can help you with your resume building and the applications. They can suggest improvements and give pointers about how to make the resume eye-catching and precise at the same time. Students can also visit work placement fairs to gain contacts of potential employers. One may even search online and email potential employers.

When you are looking for such work placements yourself, it is recommended that you get the arrangement terms in writing from the employer/organization before you start. If you need a helping hand in arranging the terms or require help for proofreading it, you should seek assistance from the career advisor agents on your campus.

How to apply for a work placement

In case the university makes arrangements for you, you get to skip the application process altogether and directly get placed in an organization. This likely happens when the work placement is part of your curriculum.

If you’re arranging your own placement, you might have to go through a formal interview process and face some competition due to the increasing demand of gaining work experience before getting a job. One would have to apply for the position by contacting through an email or getting an interview through university contacts. The process could include a formal interview with discussions over the potential role you could play in the industry and what you have to offer. They could even arrange a small test for you to appear in as a means to judge your knowledge.

Based on the number of applications and selection process steps, the time required for the internal assessment could vary from a few weeks to up to a month. Then if you’re selected, the company would contact you and you might have to sign an offer letter similar to a job offer letter.

List of universities that offer work placements with Master’s degrees

  • University of West London
    MA International Tourism and Aviation Management with Internship
    MSc Civil and Environmental Engineering with internship
    MSc Information Systems with Internships
  • University of Greenwich
    MBA International Business
  • University of Leicester
    Computer Science (MSc Programs)
  • London South Bank University
    MSc Marketing

These are just a few examples of courses that include work placements.

Hope this article helps you gain a perspective regarding work placement and its importance. Based on the advantages a work placement year offers, and the boost it can give to your career, students should definitely consider investing in an industry year during their college terms.

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