Taking a placement year
A placement year gives you the opportunity to gain valuable real-world experience. By applying your knowledge in practice, you gain insights that you can then use in your final year of study.
Many courses at Kent come with the option of a placement year or a year in industry. You spend up to 12 months employed in a role related to your studies, undertaking graduate-level tasks and projects. The placement takes place between your second and final year and counts towards your final degree.
It is possible to apply for placements in the UK or abroad. If you are an international student, you could choose to spend a year working in your home country.
Why do a degree with a placement
- Some companies see placements as an extended interview and if you perform well, they may offer you a graduate job.
- It gives you a chance to see if you would enjoy a particular job or type or company.
- You gain experience of the application process, including interview techniques, giving you a distinct advantage in your final year. Often your placement employer will be willing to act as a referee.
- If you gain a paid placement, this can help you financially.
- Unemployment rates for graduates who have done a placement are typically much lower than for graduates who have not.
- Starting salaries for graduates who have completed a placement year are usually higher.
- Finally, placement students often improve their grades in their final year, perhaps because of the knowledge gained and improved time management and interpersonal skills.
Applying for placements
Finding a placement with a major graduate employer is competitive. Your application must show that you have the skills and abilities to do the job, understand what the work will involve and know about the sector you'll be working in. Take a look at our guidance on writing CV's and covering letters.
If you are interested in a particular type of work or employer that does not regularly advertise placements, you may need to make the first approach (this is called a speculative approach).
It’s important to note that although the Careers and Employability Service will support you when applying for placements, you are responsible for finding the placement. There will also be support staff in your academic school who will be able to help you,
Virtual internships and experiences
Virtual internships are flexible, online opportunities, where you can undertake remote experience. Many virtual internships exist in the fields of IT, sales, journalism, marketing and software development.
Some employers will give you project work/tasks to complete over a period of time, and you may have regular catch-ups and support from the employer during your virtual internship.
Depending on the sector and nature of the role, you may not be able to undertake all the elements of an in-situ internship, due to client/patient confidentiality. However, you are still able to experience some of the work of a trainee and the function of the business.
If you're interested, visit Indeed's website which advertises remote internships.
Bright Network four-day virtual internship programme (26th-29th June) - applications are now open.
Different sectors available: Business, Marketing, Law, Finance, Consulting, Banking, Investment, Public Sector, Charity and Technology.
Forage (formerly InsideSherpa) – Virtual Experiences
Forage hosts company-backed free open-access virtual internships. They allow you to build career skills, gain experience and increase your understanding of different careers. Opportunities include those in Law, Design, Tech, Investment Management, Banking and more!
Companies include: Linklaters, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Accenture, Citi, White & Case, KPMG
Sign-up for free here: www.theforage.com
Rate my Placement: Work Ready Virtual Experience
RateMyPlacement.co.uk has teamed up with Inside Sherpa and Development Beyond Learning (DBL), to launch a FREE work ready virtual experience. The work ready virtual experience consists of three modules. Each one allows you to build specific skills that translate into the workplace - Wellbeing and resilience under lockdown, virtual first impressions and remote networking.
If you do not want to commit to an additional year at university, you can still gain valuable experience through volunteering.
In some sectors such as environment, media and heritage, paid work opportunities can be limited, so volunteering can be a good way of gaining relevant experience in an area you are passionate about.
If you secure unpaid work experience, providing the work is at graduate-level, you may be entitled to funding of up to £200 from our 'Work and Opportunities Fund'.
Why be a volunteer
- You can gain an insight into a possible future career and make good contacts.
- Even if the area you volunteer in is not related to the career you hope to follow, you'll gain valuable workplace skills.
- When you volunteer, you can log your hours through the Kent Employability Points Scheme, gaining credits towards a range of careers-related benefits.
- Finally, it's very rewarding and can be a great way to support your local community – and it looks good on your CV.
How to find volunteering opportunities
The organisations below are a good place to start if you are looking for volunteering opportunities.
- Do-IT – search for volunteer opportunities by type of work, location, hours of work etc
- NCVO – links
to local volunteer bureaux
- Vinspired is focused on providing volunteering opportunities for 14-25-year-olds
- Volunteerics.org - UK Government funded ICS brings together 18-25-year-olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities
There are also a wide range of local organisations that welcome volunteers.
Convention de stage
Students seeking internships in France, Spain or Italy will probably be asked for a “Convention de Stage’ or ‘Convenio de Colaboracin’ or ‘Accordo di collaborazione’ by French, Spanish and Italian host companies.
The agreement is basically a work contract for an internship position. It is a standard tripartite agreement between the University of Kent, the Employer and yourself confirming that you are enrolled as a current University of Kent student and that you will be returning to university following your internship. It states that the purpose of the internship is to allow the student to apply his/her theoretical knowledge into practice. Therefore, your academic school will need to approve the internship as being of benefit to your degree course/intended career.
Get involved in student life
The more connections you make at university, the more you'll get out of the experience. So look around, join societies, sports clubs, represent your course mates as a student rep, attend open lectures, become a student ambassador.
There are opportunities for you to improve the lives of your fellow students, while gaining new skills and valuable experience which will help to impress employers when you graduate.
Being a student ambassador has allowed me to work on my inter-personal levels of communication, along with public communication.
Why get involved in student life
- As a member of a society, you'll make friends and have fun. Choose to run it though, and you'll show prospective employers that you are organised, ready to take the initiative and happy to work with others. All great skills for your career – and your life!
- By becoming a student rep you can make a positive difference to student life. You feed back any concerns or suggestions for improvements from your fellow students to academic staff. In the process, you learn how to get your point across in meetings, develop your powers of persuasion and negotiation and learn when to compromise.
- As a student ambassador, you work alongside our Outreach team and other professional services teams. Roles available range from working at events on campus to providing classroom support in our partner schools. Scheme. There is a competitive application process, so you'll gain interview experience and if successful, you take part in a full training programme.
Many students choose to work part-time while they are studying. As long as you get the balance right between your studies and the number of hours you work, this can be a positive step.
If you don't want to work part-time during term time, you could consider summer vacation work. You need to plan ahead though, so start applying early.
Why work part-time
- It shows you are reliable, committed and flexible.
- Paid work will help with your finances.
- If your career ambitions lie in retail or hospitality, future employers will be impressed that you have sought experience in the field, at whatever level.
How to find part-time work
There are many ways to find part-time work at Kent. As well as support from the Careers and Employability Service and Kent Union's Jobshop, there are many online resources you can make use of.
Have a look at our Part-Time work guide to take your first step towards finding a suitable role.