Why internships and placements are a popular route to employment

 

Lancaster University Management School

Previously, students looking for part-time work or summer jobs were advised to take any type of role because, at that time, all work experience was considered valuable, and it was viewed as an indication that the student had drive, enthusiasm and a willingness to get on and work.

But those days are over. Career and graduate recruitment experts are now recommending that students build up a portfolio of relevant work experience as early as possible – before they arrive at university, if they get the opportunity.

Students shouldn't be dissuaded from undertaking part-time jobs or underestimate the valuable employability skills that they will undoubtedly gain from them, but should be warned that, when they graduate, that experience alone will probably not be enough to get a job. Many employers will require what they term "relevant work experience" gained either through a suitable placement or internships.

Prospective students therefore need to work out what industry sectors and job roles they might be interested in sooner, rather than later, and then focus on gaining work experience in these areas.

Many universities and business schools are offering programmes with built-in placements and internships. These are proving increasingly popular. Applications for four-year degree programmes at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), which include an industrial placement, have been soaring and many more students are enquiring about the opportunities for internships.

The latest High Fliers Research into the Graduate Market 2012 reveals that a third of this year's entry-level positions will be filled by graduates who have already worked for the organisation during an internship or placement. This is borne out by evidence from companies such as Centrica whose 10-week summer internship scheme for predominantly penultimate year students has grown from 11 places in 2006 to 75 in 2010. Last year, Centrica filled 38 per cent of their graduate intake from this internship pool. The figure rockets in industries such as investment banking, where as many as 80 per cent of positions are filled by those who have undertaken an internship or placement with the company.

In his recent review into collaboration between business and universities, Sir Tim Wilson recommended internships and work placements as the way for students to improve their employability. His research revealed that students who either completed sandwich courses or had the experience of an internship were more employable after graduation. Wilson said: "I think we're beginning to see internships being used as part of an extended interview process. The evidence that a placement year improves employability opportunities is strong while a lack of work experience appears as a key barrier."

LUMS students go out into industry placements on their third year, but we work with them from year one to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to win a placement. There are no guarantees. They take a 15-hour development programme culminating in an assessment centre and mock interview before even starting to apply for a placement at the end of their first year.

The Office for National Statistics report in graduate recruitment shows the vast increase in the size of the graduate population, an increase of more than 430,000 graduates in the past 10 years from 1,063,000 in 2001 to 1,501,000 in 2011, which means a much more competitive jobs market for graduates than in the past.

Differentiation is therefore the key. It is vital that a student (or prospective student) does everything they can to make themselves stand out from the crowd. For higher education careers services, it also means finding a balance between supporting those on placements, and helping those without such valuable work experience, to secure a graduate position.

 

Louise Briggs, head of careers, alumni and employer relations, and Rory Daly, undergraduate placement officer, Lancaster University Management School

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Junior Developer - Cirencester - £29,000

£25000 - £29000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have be...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project