My placement year: the Leeds Internship Programme


Natalie Page is a  BSc Medical Sciences student at the University of Leeds.  Currently, she is undertaking a placement year on campus with the Work Placement Team based at the Careers Centre.  She explains the benefits of a placement year, and how taking on a role not directly related to her degree has developed many workplace  skills and experiences that she will be able to take forward beyond her degree.

This Campus Internship is part of the Leeds Internship Programme which offers exclusive, paid opportunities for University of Leeds students- you can sign up here to be the first to hear about new opportunities.

My Role

My role as Work Placement Administrator is essentially supporting the Work Placement Team at the Careers Centre on campus. The backbone of my job involves general administrative tasks like uploading internship vacancies, collating applications, arranging interviews and dealing with student enquiries, but I’m lucky to get involved in a lot of activities outside of this.

As an intern, you can get involved in a lot of different areas and at the Careers Centre there’s certainly a lot going on! The team I support all have different projects so I have a wide variety of work to do, such as helping to deliver the bi-annual Career and Volunteering Fairs, creating marketing material for student communication, and working with Zoe (our other intern) to organise the Leeds for Life Community Impact Awards in April.

My degree is completely different to the work I do day-to-day here at the Careers Centre, but has definitely come in handy for areas like data analysis, in which I’ve done a big project going through old Leeds Internship Programme data. I’ve loved having a break from my degree and entering the real world of work, the whole building have treated me as a member of staff rather than an student and I definitely feel prepared for the next round of job applications in my final year!

Placement Benefits

I can’t stress enough how valuable the opportunity to do a placement year is for a student. Not only are you faced with a real working environment, but the skills you’ll gain are vital for preparing you for the world beyond graduation. I’ve learnt more about marketing, business relationships, event planning and general admin, as well as skills like communication, team-working and managing your workload.

Working for the university has been nothing but a positive experience for me, including a decent salary, a standard 9-5 working day and generous holidays. Being on campus means I still get to access all the amazing opportunities here at Leeds, including continuing being part of committee of Dancesport Society, and staying in a city I now consider my home.  My line manager Mary has been so supportive, we have regular catch-ups about what I want to get out of the internship and which skills/ experience I want to develop further. I am having a fantastic experience doing a Campus Internship and really recommend it to anyone!

The Future

Next year I’m hoping to apply for the NHS Scientist Training Programme, which has been my aspiration since before university. Although my placement hasn’t been related to my degree, it’s really developed my employability skills and made me more confident to apply, and I’m more certain that that’s the career path I want to take.

This has also been the perfect opportunity to network and get to know all the exciting careers that are out there- I’ve even been able to chat with Leeds alumni who are now doing the NHS training programme. I’ve loved my placement year, but I am also looking forward to getting back into the lecture theatre and learning again. I can honestly say doing a placement year, even if it’s not related to future career aspirations, is an invaluable experience.

Interested in a placement right here on campus?

Campus Internships are starting to be advertised now- with start dates throughout the summer. Each year there are a number of opportunities advertised, from placement years to summer internships, working on exciting projects across various departments at the University. Previous roles have spanned spanned a number of areas including communications, events, facilities, library, residential services, careers and employability.

All roles are advertised on the Leeds Internship Programme on MyCareer and are only available to University of Leeds students- sign up here to be the first to hear about new opportunities.

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My summer internship: Marketing and Communication Department at EDF Energy

Carolina Fefer is a second year BA Management with Marketing student at the University of Leeds. Originally from Argentina, she grew up in Paris, finished her last year of school in London and came to study in Leeds.

Here she talks about her first work experience as an intern in Marketing and Communication at EDF Energy.  

One of the main things they tell us in the Business School (and they are right) is how much companies value work experience. You can imagine that having never worked before and listening to my peers talking about how many jobs they’ve had so far, I was thrown into a state of panic.

Employability and careers can seem very overwhelming as a first year student, and sometimes you can feel a bit alone in this situation- but you aren’t! Everything you’re experiencing your peers will have probably faced as well- as did the people who boast impressive job titles today. This is why I am here to tell you about my work experience and how I got my first summer internship, proving to you that anyone can find a happy ending (or should I say beginning…)

Application Process & Using Your Network 

I applied at the end of May 2019 to EDF Energy in London. One of my relatives who works there told me about the job opportunities they had and gave me the email address of a person to contact. I wrote to tell him about my current situation and interest in the role. They asked me for a CV and a cover letter, which I submitted a week later, and two weeks after that I got a reply to confirm the offer.

That was a quick turnaround, and I was certainly helped along by the network I had. When looking for your first work experiences, it is very important to utilise your professional contacts. By using them, you can gain work experience that will develop you personally and professionally and recruiters will look very favourably upon this later on.

You might think this is cheating, but it’s better to use the networks you have access to, if you don’t take the chance someone else will. And, remember, you’re just starting out so asking for help is normal.  For those University of Leeds students who don’t have personal networks in their chosen field, there is the Leeds Network a database of Leeds alumni who are there to guide you, plus you can always search for Leeds alumni on LinkedIn– this is your ready made network!


Working in a company, especially under a department that relates to your studies, is a very rich experience. Of course, you learn more and you get to see how theory is put into practice, but I would say that the most incredible gain was the chance to challenge myself. By this, I mean the opportunity to see what you are good at and how to develop skills and personal attributes to help you in the workplace. The summer internship at EDF gave me  more confidence in myself, including being more outgoing, taking the initiative and boosting my assertiveness, which for me is the key skill for a good marketer: being confident of who you are to convince others of what you are worth. This works as well with “Believe in the product you sell if you want others to buy it”. Make yourself valuable!


I didn’t exactly know what to expect, having spent almost all my life in France, not knowing much about work culture in the UK, I guess I thought it would be more pressured with a lot of stress. However, I found the work environment calm and positive, allowing me to develop new skills whilst feeling confident and secure.   

Tips and advice

  • Remember the people applying to the same role have also read the job description and seen that the opportunity matches their skills. To help recruiters choose you, show them how you are different from other applicants, or what you could do better than them: it could be your ability to speak many languages, an award or simply your motivations and interests.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be shy or phased by big titles. Whatever you don’t understand, you can just ask! Don’t forget, recruiters and bosses are  people like you and me and have probably been through the same thing when they started out.
  • The same goes with using all the support you can get: not just your network but also the Careers Centre, which is a fantastic resource for boosting your employability. So, book an appointment through MyCareer  to build a great CV, prepare for interviews and ask all the questions you have!

Challenge yourself! You are still learning and free to experience the world. Get to know yourself and especially value every small thing you achieve. Be open to learning and seize all the opportunities you can get as a student.

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Introducing Class of 2020

The Class of 2020 campaign launched today – but what is it, and how can you find and take the right next steps?


There’s a style of language in emails you’ll be familiar with – “Great prices available – limited time only!” book now and don’t miss out!” – chances are if you checked your inbox now there’d be countless examples of this.

We hope that the email that landed in your inbox recently introducing the Class of 2020 campaign had the opposite effect. Over the course of the campaign, which will run up to graduation and beyond, we’ll be encouraging you to take steps that are right for you, at the time that’s right for you, whatever they may be.

Finding the right next step

You might take this to mean something big – securing a graduate job, or applying for further study. But that’s far from the case! The right next step for you might be something relatively minor, such as reading about a sector you think you might be interested in on Prospects, or tidying up your CV and getting it reviewed by our online CV checking platform Vmock.

If you’re not sure what a suitable next step might be, another one of our blog posts from a couple of weeks ago was also packed full of practical suggestions and tips on how to look after yourself while job hunting.

Our Career Planning pages can also help – it offers 9 different statements for career confidence, from “I have no Career Ideas” to “I know what I want to do” and even “I’m not ready to start thinking about my career yet.” Selecting the one you most closely identify with will take you through to a page offering advice and suggestions on how to develop your plans.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel ready

While we’re encouraging you to take action, we want to re-emphasise that not feeling sure about what comes next, or not feeling ready at this stage is a completely legitimate position to be in. We’ll be here for you throughout your final year, and are still available for you after graduation.

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Placement year at p53 – the highs and lows of working in Singapore

 Siri Place is in her final year of  a BSc Medical Biochemistry degree following the completion of a placement year at P53 Lab in Singapore.  Her story shows that although it is not easy to find a placement year, persistence, hard work and taking chances can pay off!

Applying for placement

The job hunt for placements was long, tedious and hard. It began in freshers week and consumed my life until I finally gave up in March. I had applied for everything under the sun: from R&D to supply chain to marketing and I was constantly being rejected at the final stages of each role. I was fed up of video interviews and assessments and decided it was time to focus on revision and my looming deadlines.

That was until I randomly stumbled across p53 Lab in Singapore. The prospective student had dropped out last minute and I’d overheard the lab were looking for someone to take their place. It was May, a week before summer exams were about to start and I remember sitting in the library, finding any way to distract myself revision.

Spontaneously, I sent off my CV with a small cover letter and heard back immediately – they wanted a skype interview the following day, but because of the time difference, it meant waking up at 6.30 for a 7am call.

I had felt fairly unprepared, not expecting a reply so fast, and so spent the rest of my day researching around Singapore, p53 and what to expect in a lab-based interview. The interview lasted a total of 15 minutes and I was offered the job there and then; it seemed they were impressed by my CV and initiative to apply.

It just shows that some jobs can be found purely by luck- by being in the right place at the right time- had I not overheard the conversation, I would not have known to apply!  All the hard work and rejection had finally paid off.

Moving to Singapore

I was unbelievably nervous to start a new job, let alone move 13 hours away from all my friends and family. Luckily, I had known the other student who accepted the same placement so we moved out together and found ourselves a lovely condo to live in. It seemed too good to be true; the complex had a pool, gym and was close to the lab.

However, moving abroad was not all fun and games – it involved a lot of medical exams, money and copious amounts of paperwork to fill in. There was some homesickness being so far from home, but we can both look back and say it was truly worth it.

Working in the lab

I had no experience in a research lab, other than from labs at uni, and so my first few months involved learning, reading and more learning. Nevertheless, my team were super supportive and I quickly picked up the key skills. I was even crowned the ‘queen of Western blots’.

Working in a lab can be tedious, long hours and sometimes involve a lot of waiting. It can also mean messing up a week’s worth of experiments if you don’t concentrate 100%.

But it was also very sociable and fun. I enjoyed the work I was doing and was invested in my project. I even got the opportunity to attend a two-day conference on peptides and proteins, which was largely insightful and a great networking opportunity.

Living in Singapore

It wasn’t all hard work in the lab. My weekends consisted of expensive brunches, beach clubs and even a few weekends abroad. With Malaysia and Thailand next door, I visited several countries and even spent my 21st in Bali with some friends.

Singapore is a diverse country and full of expats so I was never short of friends. The lifestyle was unforgettable – the work party was even on a yacht!

Reflections and tips

Reflecting on my experience, I think it’s really important to not give up and to stay positive. I was lucky enough to have ‘stumbled’ upon this opportunity, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard work to get there.

Don’t be disheartened, and take every opportunity you can get. If you can get the chance to work abroad, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Even just showing you moved away and adapted to new cultures is a great thing to put on your CV and will make you stand out to employers.

I developed an abundance of transferable skills at p53Lab and looking back, I feel as though I am at a great advantage not only in applying for graduate roles but also in final year.

I am now looking for opportunities move back to Singapore after graduation as I enjoyed my year there so much!

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Laidlaw Scholarship – a student insight

Paige Stevenson is currently in the second year of a BSc Neuroscience degree at the University of Leeds.  In her first year she secured a place on the Laidlaw Scholarship research programme, this allows first year undergraduates to pursue research on a topic they are interested in, develop leadership skills and improve their knowledge, skills and experience to increase their employability.

A year ago, I had no idea about the Laidlaw scholarship or any of the opportunities that it could offer me. Fast forward to now: I have learnt so much about my subject, published an article in an online newsletter and presented at an undergraduate conference.

Not once have I regretted my decision to apply – I hope this article will demonstrate the skills and opportunities that you too could gain.

Continue reading

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How to land a job after you graduate

It‘s peak job-hunting time at the Careers Service – drop-in has been as busy as the doctor’s walk-in centre and everyone’s feeling the pressure. So what else can you do to land a job?

Don’t panic

It’s easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world who doesn’t know what they’re doing – spoiler alert, nobody does! There’s literally no rush to decide your forever career as you step out of uni, so don’t let all of the grad schemes and deadlines pressure you.

Even if you are interested in big grad schemes and miss out this year – most of these are open to graduates to apply to too, not just finalists. And nationally, only about 15% of graduates go into roles with the big corporate grad schemes – so your next step might well be something totally different.

Other jobs won’t have such an advance time scale – and are more likely to advertise as and when they need somebody new. So you can keep your eye out for jobs whenever you’re ready. Continue reading

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A helping hand for medical engineers

Medical device engineering is an innovative field in healthcare but there’s not a lot of information out there about careers and employers. So, for all you medical engineers, Suzie Bullock, Careers Adviser, provides a brief overview about what’s available.

Where to start

The first point of call for careers information for students and graduates is usually but there isn’t a job profile specifically for medical device engineers. The closest source of careers information is biomedical engineer.

Many medical engineers work in the NHS but if you choose to work in the private sector and want to gain chartered status, the most relevant professional bodies are:

To find a job, these sites are useful:

If you want to stay in Leeds, which is a thriving city for its healthcare sector, there are some reports on medical technology and investment in Leeds, which you might find interesting:

Recruitment agencies in medical engineering include:

Employers in the area are:

You could also use job search sites such as indeed and simplyhired to look for medical device engineer roles.

If you want to approach a company or find a job to apply for, there is information on speculative applications, CVs, cover letters and application forms on our careers website.

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