On the 23rd of October at the very popular Department of Applied Science Monthly Seminar, Dr. Heather Macdonald (Placement co-ordinator), Dr Shona Nelson (Summer Internships Scheme) and Helen Moore-Elly (UWE Careers coach) discussed the value of placement and summer internships schemes and how to go about applying for them.
Placements and summer internships are a great way to enhance your CV and hence increase your chances for a job. These opportunities can be found locally, nationally and globally so you can expect to have a wide range of experiences to choose from. As a student searching for a placement or summer internship, there are a few things that you should consider before you start this venture.
Know what you want
Before you even start looking for placement, you should first think about what you want, i.e. your career aspirations. This is what most students tend to skip or forget when searching for a placement or summer internship. Whilst it is important to get an opportunity, it is more important to gain experience that is relevant to the career you aspire to work in.
Most students are still on a self-discovery journey and are trying to figure out what they want to do when they grow up (like these students you may be one of them). This can make it quite hard to know what placement opportunities you should choose over others. However, with some reflection and guidance from peers and mentors, you can be sure to find an opportunity relevant to what you want to do.
During her “Find your way” presentation, Helen Moore-Elly did an amazing job encouraging students to take time to reflect on who they are and what their interests are. By doing this, students will have more direction as to which placement or summer internship opportunities they should be applying for. For more advice, check out the Careers toolkit on the UWE InfoHub to find the career that is best for you.
Where to find opportunities
Placement and summer internships can often seem out of reach; despite this, if you know what you are looking for and where to look, you can be sure to find an opportunity relevant to you!
There are many different online platforms which advertise various placements and summer internships. These platforms include:
- InfoHub: UWE’s InfoHub is a great place to start your search. With specialised search engine tools, you can narrow opportunities down to those which are relevant and appealing to you. UWE Volunteering is another great way to enhance your CV so be sure to look out for these during your search.
- Prospects: this site is often used to read up job profiles (as one does when trying to understand what a job will entail). In addition to this, you can also search for placement and summer internship opportunities.
- Indeed: this site is not only for job hunting, as many students do when job hunting, it is also a great place to find a placement or summer internship.
- Rate my placement: this is a great place for hunting for various placement or summer internship opportunities, with reviews from previous placement workers and where top employers are highlighted.
- Student ladder: this site has a great search engine which helps you to narrow your search right down to what year of study you are in (even graduate opportunities), helping you find the most suitable opportunity.
Tips on how to use search tools:
- If present, use the navigation menu to select relevant categories (i.e. science) to help narrow down your search results to what you want.
- Type in key words that are relevant to what you would like to do. For example, if you are desiring to work in a laboratory as a biomedical scientist, you should use terms like “science”, “biomedical science”.
- Start with broad search terms (see examples above) and then get more specific, such as a specific job role (i.e. “laboratory technician”) to give you more opportunities to choose from at first and then narrow down to see if you can find a more relevant opportunity.
Many of these websites also include advice on how to be a successful applicant so be sure to read their blog posts and articles for advice and guidance. Signing up to their newsletters will also be useful to receive alerts when new opportunities are advertised.
If you have a company in mind, you should also consider approaching them directly and enquire about the possibility placement or summer internships. On the other hand, if you are unable to find a relevant opportunity for you, speak to the Department of Applied Sciences employability team or the UWE Careers and Employability team for advice.
NB: Many placement opportunities have deadlines and so it is important for you to start searching and preparing for the application and interview process as early as you can!
Expand your horizon
When students have an idea of what they want to do in the future, the search can become narrowed down very quickly. Whilst it is good to focus on specific subjects or job titles, it is also important to stay open minded to other relevant opportunities available. You also want to keep your budget in mind as depending on the placement location (for example when going global), you will need to consider how you will be funded/ fund yourself.
Placements can range from large to small (i.e. less well-known) companies/ organisations and so be aware that larger ones might be more competitive than smaller ones. When applying for opportunities, broaden the types and sizes of companies/ organisations you apply for to increase your chances of success. Global opportunities are a great way to gain experience whilst exploring a new environment and of course having fun in your new adventure!
Before you start your applications, ensure your CV is up to date and ready to show employers. Your CV is your chance to tell employers all about yourself, show them what you have to offer and present yourself as a successful candidate for the placement or summer internship you are applying for.
On your CV, it is important to include all relevant work experience and skills that match the opportunities you are applying for. Make sure to research into how to create a successful CV and attend CV workshops and drop-in sessions facilitated by the Careers team for feedback etc.
You can do it! Have confidence in yourself
Finally, as expressed by Dr. Heather Macdonald, it is more than possible to gain a placement or summer internship as you are more than capable of doing so!
Set your goals, do your research and go for it! Never give up and you are sure to find an opportunity relevant to what you want to do and so no matter how long it takes you (even up to the induction day of your next year at university), don’t give up!
Getting placement opportunities can seem like a daunting task with so many people to compete against and sometimes long processes to go through. Nevertheless, the wait is certainly worth it and you can definitely do it! Know who you are, what you want to do and where you want to go. Finally, have confidence and go for opportunities that will help you reach your goals.
Next DAS Monthly Employability Workshop: Wednesday 4 December 2019
Science Futures Fair – Wednesday 22 January 2020