Materials and metals engineering internships and placement years
While there is a big demand for STEM graduates in the UK, this doesn’t mean getting an engineering graduate job is a walk in the park. You’ll still need to be a competitive candidate and completing some work experience is one way to help you become one. Work experience will help you:
- show recruiters that you have hands-on industry experience
- demonstrate your commitment to a career in engineering
- develop useful technical skills and soft skills such as problem solving and teamwork
- explore a particular engineering industry and decide if it’s an area you’d like to work in after you graduate
- build up a network of engineering contacts
- gain practical insights into some of the topics you’ve studied at university
The two most common types of engineering work experience are placement years and summer internships. Our beginner’s guide to engineering work experience contains much more information and advice.
Which engineering employers offer work experience?
Lots of the big engineering employers offer placement years and/or summer internships. Take a look at our list of employers who offer engineering internships and industrial placements and make a shortlist of the employers you’d like to apply to. Most employers start advertising their work experience opportunities from September onwards each year. You can also browse the listings on this page to see what work experience is currently on offer.
Smaller employers don’t always formally advertise their opportunities so you’ll need to browse their websites for any information. Your university careers service, lecturers and placement officers often have close links with employers in the local area and may be able to help you. You may need to send speculative applications to ask if these employers would be willing to offer you some work experience; use our advice on finding unadvertised internships and applying speculatively to guide you.
Will an internship or industrial placement lead to a graduate job?
If you perform well during your time with an employer, you may well leave with a job offer for after you graduate. Engineering employers often use their work experience programmes to recruit students for their graduate schemes.
You may be offered a permanent job outright or you may be allowed to skip the earlier stages of the graduate recruitment process and just take part in the final stage(s). Your employer may also sponsor you for the rest of your time at university, which typically includes some financial support.
Other ways to develop the skills that materials engineers need
If you don’t want to do an internship or placement year, or haven’t been able to secure one, there are plenty of alternatives for you to consider, including a week or two of unpaid work experience or creating your own engineering project.
Look out for any engineering competitions or events too. The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining offers a student membership for £52 that lasts for the duration of your degree and 18 months after you graduate, which will give you access to its magazine and local meetings, and reduces fees for conferences and publications.
If you’re a female materials engineering student, you can attend the TARGETjobs Future Female Engineers networking event, where you will meet recent graduates, senior female engineers and recruiters from top engineering companies in the UK. Several students have been hired by an employer they met at this event.
You can also develop a strong skills set through non-engineering activities such as travelling, volunteering, sports and university societies. Several engineering recruiters we’ve spoken to have been keen to emphasise that they are really impressed by students who have engaged in extracurricular activities. For more alternatives to formal work experience, read our article on how to spend your summer if you can’t find an engineering internship.