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An application timeline for engineering students

Your essential engineering application timeline

Our engineering careers action plan for both non-finalists and finalists reveals what you should do each month to help you secure an engineering graduate job or internship.

What to do in autumn

Non-finalists

  • Take advantage of everything university life has to offer. Sign up for extracurricular activities and put yourself forward for a position of responsibility with your university club or society. You will develop valuable transferable skills.
  • Make the most of your university careers service from day one. Investigate the opportunities on offer, such as employability awards and skills sessions, and sign up for any that interest you.
  • Apply for summer internships or placement years for 2018. Some employers won’t take students until their penultimate year, but that’s not the case across the board. Application deadlines often fall before Christmas and many recruiters will not wait till the closing date to start filling places so get your application in early.

Final-year students

  • Find out what careers fairs and employer presentations are happening at your university – and make a note of the ones you want to attend and the companies you want to target. These are great opportunities to meet potential employers and ask them questions.
  • Register with us to receive job alerts, get headhunted and save your favourite roles to your personal dashboard.
  • Apply for graduate jobs and schemes. A large number of engineering employers have fixed deadlines, usually falling in November and December, and may run assessment centres as early as November. Some employers will start making offers before the deadline has passed so don't leave it to the last minute; quality applications take time and are employer specific.
  • If you want to pursue postgraduate study, applying early is ideal. Popular courses fill up quickly and for some universities you need to accept a place before you can apply for funding. Funding deadlines vary widely and it’s financially inadvisable to miss them.

What to do in winter

Non-finalists

  • Apply for any remaining internships or placement years.
  • Use festive social occasions to your advantage; ask family and friends if they know of any suitable contacts or ways to expand your CV.
  • Keep up the networking. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date – or create an account if you haven't already – and ask your tutor or careers service to put you in touch with one of the university's alumni doing the type of engineering job you want.
  • Review the skills, knowledge and attributes you've gained at university so far through your course, part-time work, work experience and extracurricular activities. Are you missing any skills that recruiters value? If so, plan ways to develop them.

Final-year students

  • Keep applying for graduate schemes. Some will accept applications into the new year or have 'open' deadlines (although they will still close once they've recruited enough people).
  • Make any remaining applications for postgraduate study or funding.
  • Prepare for psychometric tests, interviews and assessment centres. Go to our engineering advice section and scroll down to the 'Interviews and assessment centres' section for advice on each of these stages. Also, find out what help, resources and events your university careers service can offer you, such as a mock interview.
  • Ensure you factor in time to attend assessment centres and interviews alongside your university work and have a respectable interview outfit at the ready.

What to do in spring

Non-finalists

  • No luck finding an internship so far? Some employers may still have vacancies so keep an eye out. Seek out other options for the summer vacations too. Top of your list should be engineering-related experience, such as work shadowing at a local engineering firm or volunteering on a construction project in the developing world. However, any role will help you to develop transferable skills. Take a look at our article on what to plan for your summer if you can't find an engineering internship for more ideas.
  • Got any choice as to your modules or projects for the next academic year? Find out which options would tie in best with the work of employers who interest you. You can always phone the company's recruitment team if this information isn't provided on its website.
  • If you want a trip abroad this summer, consider organising some independent travel. It's likely to develop your planning and problem-solving skills, which employers will like, and is more likely to provide job-interview-appropriate experiences than a package holiday to Ibiza.

Final-year students

  • Knuckle down to your studies in preparation for your exams – graduate job offers at some of the large engineering employers will often depend on you achieving a 2.1 or above.
  • If you have some free time, keep your eyes peeled for any schemes that haven't closed yet or may reopen. Make a note in your diary ready to apply once your exams are over.
  • Remember that it's not essential to have a job lined up for September. Some employers, particularly smaller ones, advertise vacancies all year round. See our advice for the summer for more options.

What to do in summer

Non-finalists

  • Doing an internship, job or voluntary role? Keep a record of what you do, who you work with, any improvements you make and any challenges you help overcome. This will help with applications and interviews later on.
  • If you can't find any jobs for over the summer, consider initiating your own engineering project for the summer – could you design and build a vehicle, app, website, handy energy-saving household device...?
  • Research which engineering companies interest you for internships or graduate jobs so you are ready to apply in the autumn. Our engineering employer hubs are the best place to start.
  • Register with us to receive job alerts, get headhunted and save your favourite roles to your personal dashboard.

Final-year students

  • Look out for immediate vacancies with small employers who don't run graduate schemes. Some organisations, such as STEP and ScotGrad also offer internships for graduates. Many employers who use these schemes like to offer good interns permanent jobs.
  • See if you can find the odd graduate scheme still available for the autumn with companies who have struggled to recruit or who have had graduates drop out at the last minute.
  • If you've decided to wait and apply for graduate schemes again next year, plan how you are going to use the time between now and then to make yourself even more employable. Get further work experience? Travel?
  • Got a job? Congratulations! Give yourself a decent break but make sure you're prepared for work so you can make a good impression from day one.
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