Aerospace/aeronautical engineering internships and placement years
Completing some work experience will put you in the best possible position to secure a graduate job. The two most common options are:
- A placement year. Sometimes also referred to as an industrial placement or year in industry, you will spend some time working for an employer and earning a wage. Some degrees incorporate a placement year but if yours doesn’t and you’d like to do one, ask your engineering department if it’s possible for you to take a year out from your degree.
- A summer internship. These typically last between six and ten weeks and are usually aimed at second-year or penultimate-year students, although some employers may accept applications from first-years.
Take a look at our beginner’s guide to engineering work experience for more information and advice.
Which engineering employers offer work experience?
Most of the big engineering employers that offer graduate schemes also offer summer internships and/or placement years. This includes some of the international aerospace companies that have operations in the UK, such as Airbus and Rolls-Royce. They will usually start advertising these opportunities in September or October each year. Browse the listings on this page to see who is currently on the look out for interns and take a look at our list of employers that offer engineering internships and placement years.
You can also look for work experience with smaller employers. While some small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may advertise opportunities, the majority don’t. However, plenty of SMEs are willing to provide you with some experience if you apply speculatively. You can use our advice on finding unadvertised internships and writing speculative applications to help you.
Applying for aerospace engineering internships
The application process for internships and placement years is often the same as, or at least very similar to, the application process for graduate schemes. This means that all of your work experience applications are good practice ready for applying for graduate jobs.
The first step in the application process to the big employers is usually an online application form, although some also ask you to upload a CV and covering letter. The final stage is more often than not an assessment centre. In between these two stages you could also face one or more of the following:
Will an internship or industrial placement lead to a graduate job?
Although it isn’t guaranteed that you’ll secure a graduate job offer from an employer after completing an internship or placement with them, it’s not uncommon either. If you impress them with your work ethic and skills during your time there, they may well decide they’d like you to return after finishing your degree.
Some employers will just give you a job offer, whereas others will let you skip certain stages of the graduate recruitment process. You might be fast-tracked straight to the final assessment centre, for example.
Other ways to develop the skills that aerospace engineers need
It’s not always easy to secure an internship or placement year, especially in the earlier years of your degree, but these aren’t your only options. Alternatives include:
- insight days and weeks with engineering employers
- a day shadowing an engineer
- a week or two of unpaid work experience with an engineering company
- creating your own engineering projects
- learning a programming language
You can also look out for any engineering-related competitions or events, especially those run by the Royal Aeronautical Society. It’s free to join as a student member if you’re in full-time study.
If you’re a female aerospace engineering student, don’t miss our Future Female Engineers networking event, where you can talk to recruiters, recent graduates and senior engineers, meet like-minded students and take part in skills sessions. Attendees’ CVs are also passed on to all of the engineering employers at the event.