Sandwich Courses: Why consider them?
There are a number of university courses that are 4 years in length and include a work placement in industry. This is usually 12 months in your 3rd year. There are some courses that offer 6-month placements. The courses tend to be in science, engineering, technology or business/management.
Giving you an edge…
There is significant merit in these courses as they give you an edge in the employment market after university. As increasing numbers of people attend university, a degree is not enough to allow you to stand out. Having a year’s work experience, especially in the same field, is likely to be something other graduates are unable to match. It will also allow you to develop a valuable network of contacts, which may help you in your future career. You may even find that a successful placement leads to a job offer.
“ Generally speaking, securing an industrial placement will be significantly less competitive than applying for a summer internship or a graduate job.”
This is because there are fewer applicants at this stage, as most degree courses do not accommodate an industrial placement year. Therefore if the right placement is secured, this could ultimately be a much easier way into a very competitive industry.
Test run the industry…
It will also allow you to ‘test run’ a particular industry to see whether you enjoy it as well as developing and enhancing your employability skills and giving you real work experience with genuine responsibilities. Many students find that a placement helps in their final year of university with their dissertation, as they can better apply the theory.
But choose carefully…
One word of warning. Many sandwich courses mean that students are unable to participate in employers’ summer internship programmes in their penultimate year. Increasingly employers (in certain industries) are filling their graduate jobs with these summer students having worked with them for 8 weeks. The sandwich course graduates may therefore miss out, if their industrial placement has been within a different industry, firm or even department. You therefore need to select the placement very carefully to ensure you have lined up the graduate position you would ideally like.
See section on Industrial Placements (under second year degree) for a list of firms offering 6 and 12-month internships.