Getting work experience in the form of placements, internships and insights, whether good or bad, is absolutely invaluable. What ever the experience, it will help you work out what you really want from your career and give you the all important edge when it comes to applying for graduate jobs. I once spent 4 days of my life that I will never get back working in a local council department – if anyone is interested in a case study on inefficiency, demotivated staff and wasting public money, then I can point you in the right direction but importantly I learnt where I definitely don’t want to end up (it may well be different for you though, so do give it a try if you get the opportunity – most councils run insight programmes). So what is the difference between placements, internships and insights?
The global economy is constantly evolving and in the process it is offering you an amazing array of opportunities. It is up to you to be decisive about your future and take the next step in your career.
A placement is generally a year long commitment running as part of a sandwich degree course. As well as being called Placements, these positions may be referred to as a Sandwich Year, Industrial Placement, Year In Industry or Year-long Internship and probably a few more alternatives as well. They essentially mean the same thing and generally involve:
- A structured programme where you spend a year working full-time.
- A salary – on average the pay for sandwich year placements ranges from £11,500-£17,000, with London positions attracting a £3-3,500 ‘London weighting’ premium,
- They generally take place after your second year at uni and before your final year,
- and generally count towards your first year of APC training.
An internship is generally a one to four month work experience programme where you get a taster of working life and build the skills employers are looking for. Normally you will work full time to gain a basic understanding of the business, culture and work ethics that will offer you a platform to build upon when you get your placement or graduate job.
An Insight programme normally runs for anything from one day to one month, you get the experience of full time work and as it says an insight into how the business and job operates. It can also be the stepping-stone towards securing an internship or a placement. Generally speaking insights are about shadowing another employee and often unpaid, whereas placements and internships are more about being a fully paid and fully function member of staff.
WHY you should do work experience
Any work experience you can gain as an undergraduate, whether it is an insight scheme, an internship or a placement year (preferably all three) is invaluable in giving you the skills to gain a graduate job and launching your future career. It is only by gaining work experience that you can:
Work out what you do (and don’t) what to do
Having started your RICS accredited degree you are well on your way to a career as a surveyor, but there are still many career choices to be made, Work experience gives you the opportunity to trial run a number of different sectors under the surveying umbrella and see what you prefer. Try to secure as many insight schemes as possible because if you are on a sandwich course you want to aim to secure a placement and start your APC in your chosen field. However don’t panic too much even APC paths can be changed.
Even a couple of days is long enough to make a good impression with your employees and build contacts. The way you work, your enthusiasm and interest in the company will stand you in good stead when you look for internships, placements and graduate roles in the future. Employers are increasingly taking on work experience students, as a feeder to their graduate recruitment programmes.
WHEN do I need to start applying?
Applying for sandwich placement positions can start as soon as the October/November after you go back to uni for your second year, so by the end of January these interview are over. It is a great idea to get your applications in early and with exams and coursework still in the equation it will feel fantastic to get something sorted as soon as possible. However don’t panic as placement opportunities will keep coming in all through your second academic year right up to September.
The same applies to internships and insight programmes – early applications are key.
HOW can I improve my chances?
Take a look at our CV tips to stand out from the crowd and get that interview.
Visit our handy tips on displaying the key workplace skills that employers are looking for.
Look up our advice on overcoming your nerves and performing well at the interview stage.
WHERE do I find a placement?
Whether you are looking for an insight programme or internship over your spring or summer break or something to cover your sandwich year you should join our placement jobs group where you can gather information about the opportunities available and how they run. You should obviously also keep in touch with your placement office who may well have positions that are specifically open to students from your university.