International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Applying for a Year in Industry

By Usman Sami Khan

One of the misconceptions I had before coming to university, and I’m sure a lot of you will have too, is the very basic question of: What is a Year in Industry?

A Year in Industry can be undertaken as part of both your BEng and MEng degree, in the penultimate year of both the respective degrees. This involves taking a year out of your academics to pursue a 12 month paid internship in a company, which gives you the right amount of exposure to applying all the theoretical aspect of engineering to practicality. This also gives you a chance to impress prospective employers, who may offer you a graduate role in the company upon completion of your placement year.

Actively intending to pursue a placement year as part of my BEng Mechanical Engineering degree, much of my time in the first semester of second year has been spent applying to various companies in the UK. The University of Sheffield’s Career Service offers the myVacancies service which actively shows any work placement postings and deadlines, which help you find posts to apply for. Apart from the university’s resources, there are various other job boards such as TargetJobs and Gradcracker, all of which post placement positions according to their deadlines.

These applications are very hectic and time consuming, as each application presents different questions to be answered. After successfully passing the first stage, companies usually send links to online tests which usually involve a combination of numerical, verbal, situational, and personality based questionnaires, which helps the employer to screen applicants according to their capabilities to proceed them onto the next stage. The next stage involves a telephone or video interview, which involves basic competency based questions, including motivations for applying to the specific company and the role. After successfully passing this stage, applicants are screened onto the last stage, which is an assessment centre at the location you have applied for a placement. The day involves a chance to learn more about the company and the role, including the working environment and how employees feel about working in the company. It gives a chance to network with senior officials in the company over lunch, which helps to get to know officials in a lighter environment.  Apart from networking and building contacts, the day also involves a technical and competency based interview, which tests your basic knowledge for the role you have applied to. The day will also involve a combination of a presentation, group work, or an aptitude test, amongst other things.

Having applied to numerous companies for a placement year, I have started hearing back from quite a few and have currently got eight assessment centres lined up for February, which will take up quite a bit of time in my schedule for academics. Here’s to hoping that this information helps all of you in making an informed decision about which degree course to choose and how to go about applying for placements! 

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