Manufacturing engineering internships and placement years
Having some engineering work experience on your CV will give you a competitive edge when it comes to applying for manufacturing engineering graduate jobs.
It’s common for manufacturing engineering degrees to include a year in industry option; that is, you’ll take a year out from university to complete an industrial placement with an engineering employer and earn a wage.
If your degree doesn’t include a placement year, you should still be able to do one. Universities will usually always support any activities that increase your employability. The best thing to do is talk to your engineering department and ask if you can do an industrial placement.
An engineering placement year isn’t your only option, though. If it’s not possible or if you’d rather not take a whole year out from your studies, you could apply for summer internships. These usually last between six and ten weeks in the break between your penultimate and final year at university.
Our beginner’s guide to engineering work experience contains much more information and advice.
Which engineering employers offer work experience?
If an employer runs an engineering graduate scheme, it’s likely that it will also offer summer internships and/or placement years. This is because engineering employers are increasingly using these work experience programmes to help them find their future graduates.
The large engineering employers start recruiting work experience students from September each year. Take a look at our list of employers that offer engineering internships and industrial placements to see who you’d like to apply to. See the job posts on this page to find out who is currently advertising internship and placement year opportunities.
Smaller employers may not widely advertise work experience opportunities, but that doesn’t mean they can’t offer you any. Ask your university careers service, lecturers or placement officer if they know of any local engineering companies who may be able to help. You can also search for local employers yourself and ask if they’d be happy for you to complete some work experience with them, which is called applying speculatively. Use our advice on unadvertised internships and speculative applications to guide you.
Applying for manufacturing engineering internships
The recruitment process for manufacturing engineering internships and placement years is fairly comprehensive, especially for the big engineering employers. It could include:
While this may seem like a lot to tackle, these stages are very common in the recruitment process for engineering graduate schemes, so you’ll be in a much better position then if you’ve already had some practise.
Will an internship or industrial placement lead to a graduate job?
It’s true that engineering recruiters often hire their graduates straight from their work experience programmes, but this doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a job offer. You’ll still need to impress your colleagues during your time at the company.
If you do prove yourself, though, you may well go back to university with a permanent job offer for after you graduate. Some employers may offer you a graduate job purely based on your performance during your internship, while others will fast-track you through the recruitment process and let you skip the initial stages. It’s also common for the employer to sponsor you through the rest of your degree, which usually involves some financial support.
Other ways to develop the skills that manufacturing engineers need
If completing a placement year or summer internship isn’t possible, investigate what you could do instead. Your options include attending an insight day at an employer’s offices, spending a day shadowing an engineer or completing a week’s unpaid work experience with a local engineering employer.
You could also create your own project in your spare time. Don’t discount other experience too, such as part-time jobs, university societies and travelling. All of these will help you develop skills that recruiters will appreciate.
Head to our article on what to plan for your summer if you can’t find an engineering internship for more ideas.
Look for engineering competitions or events too. The engineering professional institutes usually offer free student membership, which includes access to resources and events.
If you’re a female manufacturing engineering student, attending our Future Female Engineers networking event should be at the top of your careers to-do list. Find out more about the event by visiting the Future Female Engineers event page.