Should I do an Internship or Placement?

Work-Experience-Latest stats from The Graduate Market in 2014  Report* has indicated that “ Recruiters have confirmed a record 37% of this year’s entry-level positions are expected to be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations – either through paid internships, industrial placements or vacation work – and therefore are not open to other students from the ‘Class of 2014’ ”. This stat confirms the strong value employers place on experience, so how do you choose which is right for you – internship or placement?

What’s the difference between the two?

Internships – Usually much shorter over holiday periods (min 1 week to max 12 weeks). Most should pay national minimum wage plus travel allowance. It’s a great way to get an idea of whether it is the right job or company for you and build up some industry contacts who may well be able to help you enter and progress into your chosen career. Downside – as it’s for a shorter period of time you need to consider what will you learn from the company in the time you are there? What sort of responsibilities will you be given? Some internships may be unpaid.

Placement – Usually for a  longer period of time (typically 12 months). The tendency for a placement is to be a part of your university course, and the university plays some part in organising / monitoring the placement. This is ideal for matching academic learning with hands on experience on the job. As well as the benefits mentioned above, the biggest difference is a placement is done over a longer period of time, so there is greater scope to get some projects to manage. The added bonus, you get paid for the full duration of the placement. Downside – it’s likely you will need to pay a percentage of the course fees for the year you are on placement, and if some of your friends on your course don’t secure a position they may complete their studies a year ahead of you.

In any case, the bottom line is any experience is good experience. The good news is that there is still time to secure your summer internship/placement. Take a look at the current vacancies in CareersHub and get involved!

* The Graduate Market in 2014 is a study of the latest graduate vacancies and starting salaries at the UK’s one hundred best-known and most successful employers, conducted by High Fliers Research during December 2013.

Rashida Ahmad

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