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Engineering Internship: Industrial Placement information for students to increase their employability and for businesses to access talent and skills
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Industrial Placement information for students to increase their employability and for businesses to access talent and skills
Engineering Internship Advice for Students and Small Businesses
Students who have undertaken engineering degrees with industrial placements – or engineering
internships - are what employers want. They demonstrate graduates possess work
experience to complement their theoretical knowledge. The hands on practical know-how demonstrates young engineers can be productive and contribute from
For individuals, placements provide a chance to get a real flavour
of the world of work. They apply their technical skills and undertake real
projects, as well as developing a network of contacts
and acquiring new expertise. Additionally, improved personal
confidence is a benefit frequently quoted by many students at the end of their
time in industry. Likewise, the real-world application of all those taught
lessons starts falling into place having spent some time working in business.
In short, industrial placements differentiate graduates from their peers and
radically improve the chances of getting a relevant, satisfying job after graduation.
Many graduates are fortunate enough to be offered a job following graduation (after-all it’s a relatively safe bet for employers). Some also benefit from sponsorship during their final year, where they may work on an employee-related project. Some interns decide which organisation they would like to work for before or during the placement. The industrial placement provides the best way of impressing and lining up a future job with the company.
Note: A 1-year engineering internships / industrial placement - isn’t the only way of getting the experience you need to make yourself as employable as possible. Alternatives include part-time work, holiday work and unpaid internships (although for many, including me, the latter is morally questionable). All of these contribute to the employability of the junior engineer.
There are similarities between applying for an industrial placement and applying for a job. See these links for putting together both an exceptional covering letter and CV/resume. Below we spell out considerations for…
Thoughts for graduates who intend going on industrial placements
Considerations for SMEs planning Industrial Placements
Ideas to include in placements to make them as fulfilling as possible
Things placement engineers perhaps should push for, to get the maximum from their experience
Useful links for graduates looking for industrial placements
Plenty of case studies!
Whether you refer to them as engineering internships, degree student placements or just industrial work experience, they are a great way for young engineers to kick-start their careers and a vital way for industry to get the skills they desperately need. For graduate engineers who go on to do wonderful things later in the profession, virtually all remember their student placement year! The experience often sets them off in a given direction and most never look back - me included!
Enjoy the section!
Engineering Internship Experience (Courtesy of William VanBuskirk)
How to Employ Engineering
Interns and Industrial Placement Students. Tips for SMEs...
Appoint a single person responsible for industrial
placements/engineering internships. Form a small support group of relevant employees around them
Find out which departments or teams could benefit
from a student, and how they would employ them. Get them to articulate likely
projects, trials, analysis, areas of research or other tasks the intern could undertake
Research a range of universities with relevant
degrees that include a placement year (sandwich degrees). Check out the degree
module content and find out if the university have a history of placing students in industry.
Get in contact with their careers department.
Prepare and agree enticing adverts which showcase
what your company does and importantly, the benefits for a potential intern based on
the proposed list of activities. Match your tasks to compliment university course content.
Get the adverts out to the chosen universities,
running the campaign like you would for regular recruitment.
Ensure you are prepared to sift applications,
ideally scoring them (against criteria in the advert for example) to justify
your decision making. Select a small number of applicants for interview. Prepare
feedback for the closest applicants, including those invited to
Plan and hold interviews, ideally with a small
Prepare and send feedback for all applicants, including
a formal invite for the chosen applicant.
Contact all interviewees and agree a start date for the successful candidate.
Start! Use your 12-month plan as a guide, but give
them flexibility to learn and discover.
Having been through the experience once, plan a longer term rolling programme
of industrial placements, year on year. Supplement your permanent employee resources with low cost, modern thinking, young engineers who are enthusiastic and eager to impress. Gather contact details for a range of
universities, understanding which ones have sandwich courses and find out the best time
of year to approach them.
Further develop your academic links, perhaps with mutual
benefits like access to technical expertise and facilities, placing research projects and of course placement students for the university.
Internship: Engineering (by Waupaca Foundry)
Engineering Internship and Industrial Placement Best
It’s often beneficial if a 12 month Industrial
placement/engineering internship includes at least 1 major project or piece of work set
by the host company
The placement should include a meaningful role with
some level of responsibility, that feeds into a tangible business programme
Likewise, work activities should be related to the
degree, ideally enabling the student to apply some of their theoretical
Put together a coherent structured plan for the
student industrial placement year. Have a clear idea of the area of the
business they will work in, projects they will work on and their remit to
investigate and undertake research.
It may be beneficial to use the opportunity to explore new areas of work, research or improvement initiatives. Has your business got ideas it would like to explore, but all employees are currently tied up in the day-to-day business of getting orders out of the door?
A good idea is for the placement host company to ask the student what they would like to get out of the year. Likewise, the student should
give some consideration as to how the company’s activities can align with their
studies and perhaps think about something tangible they would like to get from
Assign an industrial mentor for all students on
their placement year. Consider a team leader, supervisor, manager or small
Depending on the size of the business, a buddy may
be assigned to work with the student on a day-to-day basis. This is different to the mentor who is typically more senior. Are there any graduate employees who may have experienced something similar, and therefore would potential make a good buddy for your student?
The industrial mentor should work closely with a
visiting university tutor (or liaison officer) to make sure a structured plan is in place, is being
reviewed and importantly is being executed. Ultimately, they should be checking the placement is adding to the student's learning. The host business should also badger the university if they feel the tutor isn't proactive enough.
The university tutor should periodically visit the
small business to see and discuss student placement progress. Key dates should
be set at the start of the placement, as part of an agreed plan. Consider adding these to the schedules of business project plans and activities.
The Benefits for Both Parties
For the young engineer the industrial placement will add
tangible employment skills and experience. Examples include CAD skills, vocational technical expertise, applied R&D, supply chain knowledge and project outcomes, with benefits measurable in a quantifiable way.
The opportunity to practice communication skills should
be a part of the experience. This includes verbal, interpersonal and presentation
skills, articulating technical issues, as well as technical report writing.
Encourage placement students to network throughout
the year, collecting business cards and contact details that will be valuable once
Formal student presentations should take place at least
once at the end of the year, at the host company and also when the student returns to
university. The student should confidently present what they have undertaken over the duration of the placement, making their unique contribution clear.
Organisations can use placements to start R&D
projects, improvement programmes and activities which improve their capability. Some firms find it useful for student placements to drive change, rather than be part of business as usual.
Ideally, some aspects of the placement should feature a level of responsibility, be that a project, activity or new initiative. The young engineer's CV/resume should include real-world experiences that improves their appeal to potential future employers.
Both the university and the business can showcase
industrial placements to demonstrate and market their relevance and proactivity in their respective sectors. Placement successes should feature in
newsletters and press releases, as well as on social media, forming part of the organisations outreach strategy.
After the placement year the company may consider
sponsoring the student for their final degree year. This could include a
business-related major project, access to facilities, staff and expertise, as well as industrial technical reviews and frequent visits to the sponsoring business and
it's supplier companies.
Best Corporate Film-Mechanical Engineering Internship Video (by Kaushal Manda)
Nottingham Internship Scheme - Working for a small company (courtesy of Nottingham University)
Internship: Lean Manufacturing (courtesy of Waupaca Foundry)
Cummins Engineering Placement Student, Turbo Technologies (courtesy of Cummins)
Engineering Internships and Industrial Student Placements: Further Tips and Great Advice
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