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Year in Industry

Feel like your undergraduate studies could do with that little bit extra to maximise your employability when you’re unleashed onto the graduate job market?  You could try an undergraduate degree that incorporates a year in industry out for size…

What is a year in industry?

A year in industry is also known as a sandwich year or a placement year. It’s usually the third year of your course. This is a full year out from university life and study to undertake full time work within a company. Providing you successfully fulfil the requirements to pass your year in industry, you’ll return to university for your final year of study to complete your degree.

Degrees that include a year in industry are particularly popular with science, technology and business and finance related courses. In order to arrange your placement you’ll have to find the opportunities yourself, which are usually advertised through your university or else your university will provide guidance on the best places to look. You’ll then have to go through an application process; so it’s CVs and cover letters at the ready and the likelihood that you’ll have to attend at least one interview before you secure your place with a company.

Year in industry students will have real responsibilities and receive appropriate training throughout their placement. Your university has to approve the organisation you plan to do your placement with, and they will keep in touch with you throughout your placement year to make sure you’re surviving, and they’ll act as a support network if you come up against any real problems during your time with your placement company.

Sounds pretty good, right? Oh, AND you’ll get paid! Placement year students will receive a salary for their work, typically around £14,000 but it could be higher. A student with a salary…imagine the possibilities!

What could you do for your year in industry?

What you do during your placement year could be shaped considerably by your degree studies and the type of industry you want to move into after you graduate. You are not usually restricted to who you can apply to for a placement year opportunity.

A handy hint, though: if you’re set on a finance career following university, a placement with an organisation such as a bank or professional services firm is probably the way forward! Don’t be too downhearted if an industry year with one if these doesn’t work out though; any placement year demonstrates initiative and development of commercial awareness on your part, and you’ll certainly pick up some skills which are transferable to finance along the way.

Advantages of a course with a year in industry…

A year industry can be a very smart choice as part of an undergraduate degree if you make the most out of it – particularly if you’re interested in a finance career! Here are a handful of possible advantages that come from taking this option with your degree: 

  • Stand out from the crowd in a pile of CVs featuring graduates from the same subject background…The fact that you’ve chosen this option from the off shows there’s that bit of something extra about you.
  • A year in industry is completely personal to you. Your experiences will be unique and character building. Talk about this in the right way in an application and this will make you a pretty interesting prospect for potential employers.
  • A placement year gives you a chance to ‘test drive’ your industry and define your career ambitions. Perhaps the year will open up something new to you as you learn more about working life in the industry.
  • You’ll pick up new skills, whether technical, specific to a profession or so-called ‘soft skills’ (things like communication and negotiation skills) that you’ll find hard or even impossible to develop in the university environment. One step ahead of the game!
  • You can make firm contacts within an organisation, and perhaps even further afield within the industry, and begin to network in the ‘real world’ outside of the university bubble before you graduate.
  • A placement year could lead to further internships and even interviews for a graduate role with your placement company.
  • A salary for a year.
  • A year in industry could also be the chance to try out life in a new city during your university years. There may even be the option to undertake your placement year with a company overseas!

By Jos Weale, Editor, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com