What are the benefits of an internship or placement year?

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What is an internship? 

An internship is a structured work placement that provides hands-on experience in a professional environment. Placements take place over a set period of time – this could be a few months or a year. It’s a fantastic opportunity to apply your classroom learning without the pressure and responsibility of a permanent job. 

Professional Training Programmes at Surrey

The University of Surrey offers Professional Training years as an integrated part of many degree programmes. Work experience is seen as an important part of student development, and the University’s work placement partnerships are ranked as the best in the UK by QS World Employability Rankings 2020.

Surrey’s Professional Training placement programme is one of the largest in the world, with over 2,300 providers. Here you could gain experience with a wide range of industries in the UK or overseas. Previous students have worked with global companies that include Airbus, L’Oreal, Microsoft and Sony.

Five big benefits of work experience

1. Explore your career options

A professional placement allows you to try out a role or industry and decide if it’s right for you. You will experience what a typical day is like and what the opportunities are for career progression. A work placement is an important step in establishing your career goals. You’ll work with experienced professionals who can help you to shape your career aims and plan the steps you need to take to reach them. During your placement, you will also be exposed to other areas of the business. This will open your eyes to alternative career roles, helping you to find out what you do and don’t want to do.

2. Develop your skills

Work experience gives you hands-on experience that you can’t get in a classroom setting. You’ll apply your knowledge in a professional working environment, and your actions could have a real impact on the company. Soft skills are just as important as technical skills. Time management, punctuality, teamwork and communication are all essential to success. By honing these skills, you’ll become a well-rounded individual that is attractive to employers.

3. Enhance your CV

Securing a job without any prior experience is difficult. A placement programme enhances your CV with practical experience, giving you a competitive edge over other candidates.

After your placement, you will have clear evidence of industry skills and technical knowledge that you can add to your CV. To impress potential employers, you should also focus on the impact you had on the company, as well as the aspirations you have for your future career.

Employers often specifically seek out graduates with work experience on their CVs. As well as demonstrating your professional skills, a placement year shows your commitment to the industry and proves that you are serious about your career choice.

Many companies use work placements and internships as a way to recruit new talent. An internship is the best way for a company to test out potential employees before hiring them. This means that a successful internship has the potential to lead to your first job. At Surrey, around 1,200 students take part in work and research placements each year, and an average of 39% receive a job offer.

4. Build a network

During your placement, you will be surrounded by industry professionals. This is a unique opportunity to introduce yourself, ask questions and make an impression. The people you meet could open the door to your first job.

Networking is also about seeking advice and finding mentors. A mentor could help by sharing their expertise, introducing you to other professionals, and offering guidance on the next steps in your career path.

Remember, even the CEO was in your position once, so introduce yourself to everyone you can, ask how they started out in their career and find out how you can follow in their footsteps.

5. Boost your confidence

One of the biggest benefits of a placement year is the boost it gives to your confidence. Throughout the year, you will overcome fears, discover your strengths and weaknesses, and take on new challenges. You will gain a stronger belief in your abilities and you’ll feel proud of the contributions you make to the company. When you graduate, you will be ready to take on the challenge of a new career.

Placement opportunities at Surrey

The International Study Centre is the first step towards a Professional Placement year at Surrey. Our programmes [link: https://isc.surrey.ac.uk/programmes] equip you with the employability skills and academic knowledge you need to succeed in your degree and placement year.

Support during your placement

During a placement year at Surrey, you will have full support from an Individual Placement Tutor. Your tutor will visit you at your workplace and help you to get the most out of your experience. They can also help out with any academic, professional and personal matters.

You will also be supported by Surrey’s Professional Training team and wider student services – including the Students’ Union and the Centre for Wellbeing. If you choose an overseas work placement, you will be introduced to the University’s Global Engagement Office.

When you progress to your degree at the University of Surrey, you can choose from a wide range of courses which include optional Professional Training placements. To learn more, visit the International Study Centre website and find out more about employability skills, placement opportunities and the importance of work experience.

Find out more about starting your studies or check the latest COVID-19 information.