Looking for a placement or internship? Here’s what you need to know


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Are you looking for a placement or internship for next year? This post outlines a few key points to be aware of and is equally relevant for those of you looking for any type of work experience.

By far the most common questions I’ve had from students in the first few weeks of this term have been about placements and internships. This is fantastic to see – work experience is so valuable – but a lot of the students I’ve seen have been really stressed out about this.  As such, I thought a quick post on the things you need to know if you’re looking for placements or internships for next year might help.

1. Don’t panic

Easy for me to say perhaps.  However, I feel like a sort of placement panic has descended on campus.  Those of you planning on doing a year in industry in particular, are probably hearing it from all angles (us in Careers, included) about how you need to apply early. Whilst it is true that many employers recruit early, and may fill their opportunities quite early in the academic year, these are not the only opportunities. If the sorts of organisations or sectors that you are targeting do have early applications, then yes, you do need to be applying now.  But equally there will be loads of other opportunities throughout the year.

If you are not sure of when placements or internships in your sector/s of interest tend to get advertised, come and speak to us.

2. Use the new placement resource

The Work Placement team have developed a fantastic new digital resource specifically for those of you interested in placement years.  It is equally useful if you are just looking for a summer internship – or any type of work experience for that matter.

It includes input from employers, previous placement students and careers and placements staff and has pretty much everything you need to know about the whole process:  From thinking about doing a placement, finding one, to being on placement and returning to university.  You can dip in and out of it at your own pace and use as much or as little of it as you like.

Find it here on the VLE. Click on ENROL on the left hand menu and then you will be able to access the module content from the left hand menu.

The placement team are also running various webinars on placement related topics this semester, so keep an eye out for these.

3. Quality not quantity

Probability states that the more applications you make, the more likely you are to be successful, right? Wrong! You are far more likely to be successful in gaining a placement if you make fewer really high quality applications than if you take a scatter-gun approach. Yes, employers will want to see evidence of your skills and suitability, but equally importantly, they want to see evidence of why you are interested in them and that particular role.  Focus your attention on the opportunities that genuinely interest you: Put the time in to make a top-quality applications to those opportunities and you are more likely to be successful.

4. Take advantage of the opportunities on campus

This year there will be loads of  opportunities to meet with or hear from employers or alumni from a whole range of sectors; both within your school or faculty or at our University-wide events.  These are really worth attending for many reasons, just two of which are;

  • Explore career ideas, or discover new ones: If you have some vague interests, look out for events relating to those, they will help you learn more about it and assess if it really does interest you.  If you have no ideas, you might hear about things that sound really interesting and you may want to pursue
  • Get an advantage in the application process: Get insider tips and advice on applications. Get insights that will help you answer the “Why do you want to work for us/ why are you interested in this specific opportunity question”. Remember that – particularly at recruitment events – employers come to campus because they want to meet Leeds students like you. Many employers will make a note of names of students they meet at events who impress them, or invite you to stay in touch with them if you decide to apply.  This can really help you during the application process.

There are a number of posts from other students and graduates about how attending careers events has helped them in our “Careers Fairs and Events” category.

5. Get into the right mindset

The placement and internship search should be viewed as a marathon rather than a sprint. You might get the first thing you apply for, but in reality, it is more likely that you will have to apply for multiple placements before getting one.  One of the things that students who have secured placements always say is the importance of persevering and not giving up if you get rejected: Chances are you will get rejections from a number of applications before securing one.  You can see more of their advice in our “How I got my job/ placement” posts.

6. Finding advertised opportunities.

If you are looking for a placement year, your school or faculty will likely circulate any opportunities they are notified of.  In addition to these, we advertise opportunities on behalf of 100s of employers, across all sectors. At the time of writing, we have over 250 placement year listings and over 300 summer internship listings.  Many of these listings will represent multiple opportunities. See the “Vacancies” tab on MyCareer where you can filter by vacancy type (i.e. placement, graduate job etc.), business sector, employer and more.

Many organisations – particularly smaller ones – may only advertise opportunities on their own websites, social media channels etc. Equally some organisations will advertise on specialist job sites.  You can find job sites – and other useful resources – related to your sector/s of interest in our careers resources and for jobs particularly related to your school/ faculty in our School resources

7. Be proactive

Advertised placements and internships are just the tip of the iceberg.  Many students find their internship, placement or other work experience by contacting organisations of interest on a speculative basis. This means approaching them even if they are not advertising.  See our website for how to do this effectively, you can also see other posts on this blog, including posts from students who have secured placements through a speculative approach.

If you’re struggling to find organisations you are interested in, these posts, outlining the ways you can use LinkedIn to find potential employers, will help you.

8. No career ideas? No problem

Finally, if you have no career ideas or are unsure of what you might want to do for a placement or internship, there is a lot of useful information in our starting points.  Take a look at those resources and come and talk to us.  We won’t tell you what you should do, but we will help you start to explore and generate some potential areas to consider.

There is loads more advice and guidance about work experience on our website.  You can also come and talk to us for individual advice and support. Finally, remember that we can support you throughout the application process; from checking CVs and applications to mock interviews and practise psychometric tests.

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Filed under Advice, Develop your employability, Work Experience

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