What is an industrial placement?
Industrial placements (or "industrial work placements")are very useful for undergraduates looking to gain professional development while working at the same time.They are an extended period of work experience, which can be either paid or unpaid, that many major firms offer to undergraduate students.
Students who enrol on industrial placements are usually required to do so as part of their degree course, but are free to do so if they are not on a course requiring an industrial placement. Typically industrial placements will last for a year (12 months, although they may last for less) and form the third year of a four-year degree course. It is usually only four-year degree courses that offer students a year working in industry. Generally speaking, it is usually vocational-based degree courses (such as Business, Marketing and Fashion) that offer industrial placement opportunities.
Who organises placements?
Although degrees may include the industrial placement year as part of their course (usually called a sandwich placement), it is almost always the responsibility of the student to apply for and obtain the offer of a placement, although their tutors and careers advisers may assist them in their applications.
Places on industrial placements are limited, particularly at the most well-known and respected firms such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever. Even if it is not a part of your course, it is still recommended to try and acquire an industrial placement if you can, since it will be very helpfulin your applications for future employment. The employer can also serve as a future referee.
When applying to an industrial placement, you will typically have to submit your CV and a cover letter to your employer, along with anything else that is required from them. Following that, you will most likely have to attend an interview with your prospective employer.
Industrial Placements or Internships?
Industrial placements are offered by a wide range of UK and international companies in industries such as FMCG, retail, and investment banking. Some larger firms do not offer industrial placements, although will typically still offer extended periods of work experience within their company in the form of an internship.
The main disadvantage of an industrial placement over an internship is timing. Internships will typically run only during the summer or other holidays where students have free time available to them, whilst industrial placements will be at different times of the year and so not necessarily when everyone is available to go on one. Also, internships will typically last for shorter periods of time than industrial placements, meaning that an individual can get experience with a range of different companies - in comparison to industrial placements, which will only give you experience at one or two companies. However, in terms of your CV it will make no difference as to whether you have completed an industrial placement or an internship, as long as it is at a reputable company.
Some industrial placements may be assessed by your employer depending on the company you are working for and whether the placement is needed to complete your course. Such an assessment will typically come in the form of evaluation from your employer on your performance every month, which will be sent back to your education provider. You will also be able to give feedback to your employer about how they're helping you as an employee, as well as being able to ask any questions you may have surrounding your placement.
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