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Insights How does a placement year work?

What does a 12-month placement mean? And, more importantly, is it the right move for you?

It all comes down to what you’re looking for. Placements offer a golden opportunity to step away from the lecture hall and gain practical experience. Choose wisely, and you could boost your career forward while proudly adding a reputable company name to your CV.

There’s no denying that placements offer a wealth of benefits, but is it your ticket to career success? Let’s dig into some of the top questions students are asking to help you make that call.

What is a placement year?

At AtkinsRéalis, we offer two placement options: an 8-week summer placement and a year-long industrial placement. Both avenues provide invaluable insights into our organization, and the 12-month journey offers a more in-depth experience of our projects, our work ethos and culture. Known as a sandwich year, this placement is a gateway to real-world challenges and practical skill development.

You’ll typically ‘sandwich’ this work experience between the second and final year of undergraduate study, allowing you to clarify your career goals before graduation.

Is a work placement year worth it?

Did you know that placement students typically perform better in their final year? While taking a break from the routine of university life might not suit everyone, the benefits are undeniable and could greatly enrich your academic journey:

  • Enhance your employability
  • Gain transferable skills
  • Make professional contacts
  • Specialize in a specific area
  • Boost your confidence 
  • Save money

How competitive are placement years?

EngineeringUK predicts that by 2024/2025, the engineering and manufacturing sector will need anywhere from 30,000 to 43,500 placements to accommodate students' increasing interest and demand. 

So it’s no surprise that securing a placement year can feel like entering a fiercely competitive arena. But resilience is key. You won't land every opportunity you apply for, and that's okay. The trick is to keep applying and pushing forward.

Preparation is your best friend. Dive deep into research, tailor your application to each placement, and start networking early. It’s a process that will demand your dedication and time management skills, but our easy-to-follow process will guide you through the steps.

When should you start looking for a placement year?

Our best bit of advice - and this relates to every point in your career - is to always think a year ahead.

For the best shot at securing a placement, kick off your search at the beginning of your second year, if not before. Many companies start advertising their placements a year in advance, so it’s a good idea to get your applications in and potentially secure one early on.

Do you get paid in a placement year?

While most placements offer a wage, the amount will vary from minimum wage to competitive salaries, depending on the employer, industry, and location.

We understand the dedication and effort our placement students invest in their roles, and we believe in recognizing and rewarding that commitment. That's why we offer competitive pay that reflects the value of their contributions. 

Can I work full-time in my placement year?

Most placement years are typically considered a full-time position. This setup ensures you can immerse yourself fully in the professional environment, gaining priceless experience that goes beyond what you learn in the classroom.

What happens after your placement year?

Each year, our top-performing placement students are eligible for nomination to our Graduate Development Programme. If selected, you’ll bypass the standard recruitment process and receive a direct invitation to join the programme.

Join us on our journey to redefine what's possible

Faced with some of the planet’s most complex challenges, we need a community of changemakers.

Explore our placements and become part of a team dedicated to tackling these challenges head-on, within one of the world’s most renowned consultancies.

Our summer and industrial placement opportunities open for applications in Autumn. If you don’t find any openings, join our Talent Community to receive a reminder when applications re-open.