Gap Year Internships and Work Placements
Have you thought about spending some or all of your gap year in an industrial placement? There are opportunities for fixed term placements for undergraduates in all branches of engineering, science, IT, computing and business (and much more), before or during your university course. Undergraduate placements come in many formats, but they are all essentially a learning experience in a professional working environment which lasts for a fixed term. You will hear the terms: work experience, internships, industrial placements and vacation placements. Undergraduate placements vary in length - anything from a few weeks up to 12 months.
You will often be supervised by a qualified individual – this doesn’t just mean that someone is keeping an eye on you. You can gain a lot of knowledge and tuition from your appointed supervisor by being open to instruction and asking the right questions. An industrial placement is much more than just a chance to gain work experience. It can be an ideal opportunity to gain first hand experience of a commercial business environment, and to work with competent professionals that are willing to help you to learn and understand the workings of the real business world.
If you choose to work part of your gap year, you could save money for your future studies or for your travels in the rest of your gap year. In a 12 month placement, you can typically earn around £11-14,000 per annum (although this varies depending on the company/placement) and you could also receive holidays (typically 20-25 days/year). Some companies offering industrial placements may even offer sponsorship of your final year and may present opportunities for your final year project.
An industrial placement with most companies will mean experiencing real work and real
responsibility from the first day, with the benefit of an experienced team to help you to
realise your full potential. Spending your gap year in industry can give you the opportunity to
experience technically challenging work, gain real industry experience, receive technical
training and develop new skills. It makes sense to find work in an industry related to your studies or the career you intend to pursue in the future. The experience can help you to be sure about the career choice you have to make, and the relevant experience and key skills you will gain will be sure to increase your employment opportunities when you graduate.
You can choose to take your gap year whenever you wish. However, it is worth checking whether a
gap year in industry is required or encouraged in your chosen degree course. Some courses will
encourage students to take a 12 month industrial placement between the last two years of
study, and this can even form part of the final qualification. These are usually known as
sandwich degree courses.
In these courses, the industrial placement should use and enhance skills learnt from the
course, as well as developing the student’s knowledge of the subject. Some companies offer a
12 month gap year placement only to students studying a four-year sandwich degree course
You could secure a job offer for after you graduate from your industrial placement. Of course, this will depend on how
you have performed and what opportunities exist within the company that you choose to take your
placement with. Even if you don't get taken on by the company you spend your industrial placement
with, the skills and experience you will have gained will greatly increase your chances of
securing a job in your chosen field, and will give you an big advantage over your fellow graduates
who don't have similar experience.
Internships and Work Placements