PLACEMENTS AND INTERNSHIPS

 

What is a placement?

Many courses at Kent come with the option of doing a year in industry, also known as a sandwich or placement year between the second and final year of your degree course. You’ll spend up to 12 months employed in a subject-related role and it counts as part of your degree.

Some companies use your time with them as an extended interview and if you perform well, may offer you a permanent job after you graduate. There is even evidence to suggest that if you do a year in industry you often get a better-paid job after you graduate. Take Computer Science students for example. In 2010, graduates from the 4-year placement degree course had a starting salary of £26,461 compared to non-placement graduates who began on £20,754 – that’s a difference of 27%!

Some employers offer shorter sandwich placements of four to six months and also vacation placements, usually involving two or three months work over the summer, so, if you see the word "placement" used in a job advertisement, you should check exactly what the employer means by this!

Why do a degree with a placement?

 

It’s competitive, but if you work hard during the application process it really can pay off with Computing students recently on placement with the Police, Disney, HSBC in Hong Kong and Cisco in California! 

What sort of work would I do in a placement?

The possibilities are extremely diverse, but the following extracts from job descriptions of sandwich placements may help to give some idea of what is involved:

  • "The industrial trainee will contribute to the day-to-day operations of Pfizer's Press Office … duties will include developing a local media strategy, managing a weekly summary of press coverage, providing PR support, effective information management and intranet development"
  • "The Marketing Assistant supports and takes the lead on a multitude of regular and project-based tasks including production of monthly and quarterly service station sales reports; co-ordinating relationships with marketing and PR agencies, merchandising houses and other suppliers; monitoring effectiveness of key marketing programmes … " (Exxon Mobil)
  • "Re-writing the New Starter induction, interviewing production operatives, studying peaks and troughs for an absence management report, conducting a production project involving factory-floor research, co-ordinating training on a new PC system and the updating and running of workshops for the Line Managers' Manual" (Personnel - Northern Foods)
  • "Working with a local audit team supporting other team members who are reviewing the effectiveness of corporate governance arrangements, confirming the accuracy of statutory financial statements and assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of local services" (District Audit)
  • "The placement student is responsible for the preparation of monthly reports for central business units and assisting in the overall consolidation process. The role also includes business planning, investment appraisal, support to major projects and the maintenance and development of the department's Intranet site" (Powergen - Commercial department)

Applying for placements

Obtaining a placement with major graduate employers, such as those above, is competitive and your application must be as strong as possible, showing that you know what the work is likely to involve in the area for which you are applying and demonstrating that you have the personal skills and abilities to do it well. Many employers will use the same application form for placement students as they do for graduate trainees. See our "Applications" pages at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/applicn.htm for advice on completing these forms. Some of these employers will have closing dates during the first term of your second year.

If you have a strong interest in a particular type of work, or type of employer, that does not regularly advertise placement opportunities, you may need to be the one who makes the first approach. It is quite in order to write to companies to tell them about yourself and to ask if they might be able to offer you a placement. This approach should normally be made via a CV and letter: see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv.htm for more about writing these. Our pages on the Creative Career Search at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/CJ.htm will give you more advice on making speculative approaches to employers.

Please note that although the Careers and Employability Service will help you as much as we can when applying for sandwich placements which are part of your degree course, it is not part of our formal responsibilities and you should also get help from the placement tutor in your department, who may know of placement opportunities that we are not aware of.

Questions asked to Kent students at placement interviews

Tips from students after interviews

Getting the most out of your placement

The placement is a formal part of your degree and you will be required to keep a log of your training and work experience during the year and to produce a report at the end of the year. These can be used as the basis for future applications for graduate jobs. They will also help you to analyse the skills you have developed through your placement.

A placement year can also help you to make decisions about your future career - to discover what you like and dislike about the work, where your strengths and weaknesses lie and what possibilities there are for long-term career development in that field of work. Taking time to reflect on what you have seen and done during your placement, and how you have developed as a result, is an important part of learning through your work experience.

You can use our Skills pages to find out more about the skills needed by graduate recruiters, to analyse and record your own skills and to prepare answers to skills-based questions on graduate application forms.

Placement Opportunities

Details of current and forthcoming placement opportunities sent to the Careers and Employability Service by employers will be placed on our online vacancy database as they are received. You can search the database for placement opportunities by type of work, location, etc. Try out the database or register at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/jobs

Kent Business School now have a placements page www.kent.ac.uk/kbs/undergraduate/year-industry/ug-placement-student.html

If you would like an idea of which employers might recruit placement students, you can find lists of employers who advertised placements for the previous academic year here.

Further Information

Useful websites

 

Last fully updated 2016