Loughborough University offers all of its students the chance to spend a paid year in industry – and is proud of the many achievements and positive impacts they have in the workplace.
With many employers preferring candidates to have a combination of experience and good grades, placements are becoming an increasingly important element of a graduate’s CV.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that growing numbers of students are taking advantage of the opportunity to gain industry experience alongside their degree studies.
During the 2015-16 academic year, in the region of 1,500 Loughborough students were engaged in a placement at one of 600 host organisations.
The value of placements
Placements – aka internships, sandwich years, a year in industry… – are cited by students as an invaluable means to hone skills, acquire knowledge, and develop significant business contacts.
Returning from their placements, many admit that the 12-months have transformed their work ethic – a new, more focused and mature attitude helping to improve their academic performance and grades.
Placements are also a good way for universities to cement relationships with partner organisations, often leading to other research and development collaborations.
From an employer’s perspective, placements can be a significant element of the recruitment process – and many students return to their host company when they graduate.
“A brilliant experience…”
Laura Webber (MEng Aeronautical Engineering, 2016) is one of them.
Laura’s placement was with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team. She joined the Aerodynamics department, and quickly established herself as a valuable part of the front of car development group.
She progressed from supporting more experienced colleagues to developing her own increasingly complex concepts, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of the mechanics, processes and tools involved.
The team are proud of Laura’s significant contribution to their 2015 World Championship winning car – the Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid.
Mike Elliot, Head of Aerodynamics, said: “Laura can point to items on the car that she designed or contributed to. That car went on to win 16 out of 19 races that season – so that’s fantastic.
“We are lucky in Formula One, attracting the very best students. Competition for full-time employment is extremely high. Only one or two of our placement students return to join our graduate programme each year – and Laura is one of them.
“We offered her a place with us during her third year – a full 12 months before graduation. I think that speaks volumes about the impression she made – and we really look forward to welcoming her back to the team.”
As well as working on vehicle development at the team’s headquarters in Brackley, Laura also spent time in the Race Support Room, supporting trackside activities.
Laura’s achievements whilst on placement were recognised at Loughborough’s Placement Student Awards 2016. She was one of three category winners who applied their knowledge and skills to deliver real impact.
Laura – now employed full-time with the team as an Aerodynamicist – has this advice for students considering a placement year: “Put yourself forward, and really apply yourself. It can be long hours and hard work, but it’s well worth it. A placement is a brilliant experience – I’d genuinely encourage people to go for it.”
Visit the NCUB Placements page for more information on how to find placements.