Professional Practice Years
When should I start looking?
You need to start looking early in your second year as opportunities will be advertised throughout the year including early summer. Competition for professional practice years can be high, so planning how you will search for the ones you are most interested in is essential. If you are not sure how to begin your search, there is a timeline that will give you an idea on how to start your search. Word of warning the later you leave it, the harder it is likely to find a professional practice year in your preferred sector.
How can I find a professional practice year?
You will need to start researching your options well in advance and plan how you will find your professional practice year. Don’t fall into the trap of just searching for the term ‘professional practice year’ when looking for work.
A professional practice year can also be advertised as any of the following:
- placement or placement year
- sandwich year
- industrial placement
- fixed term contract
- year in industry
Have a look at the Prospects digital magazine: Student Career Guide
Do not ignore the Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) as theycan offer valuable work experience. Some opportunities will be advertised through the Student Development and Awards team, however, most SMEs may expect you to approach them with a speculative inquiry.
Try looking on general Directory Sites such as indeed.co.uk and approaching the employer direct. But make sure you have a well written letter of inquiry and a CV which will capture the employer's attention.
Can you not give me a professional practice year?
The short answer is no; the recruitment process is identified by the employer. Think of a professional practice year as a real job. To secure a job you have to go through the competitive application process. If you have worked before you know you have to go through the recruitment process and be successful in securing the role- it is the same process for a professional practice year.
How will I survive financially?
We believe that companies offering undergraduate professional practice year opportunities and internships should always pay their interns a fair salary. After all, during work experience the student will effectively become a company employee, so it's only fair that they are rewarded like any other worker would be. Placement year salaries average between £12,000- £17,000 per year. The professional practice year opportunities advertised through the Careers and Employability Service are all paid at the national minimum wage or higher. AGCAS Position Statement on internships.
How can I get help?
The Student Development & Awards (SDA) team is part of the University of Bedfordshire’s Careers and Employability Service. There are dedicated work placement co-ordinators who can show you a variety of ways to find a PPY and we may already have opportunities that you can apply to. Last year we advertised nearly 300 paid opportunities in a variety of sectors. If you are not interested in any of our placement year opportunities or have a specific field or role you would like to work in we can give you guidance regarding approaching companies and sending speculative applications.
What have you got to lose? The SDA team is dedicated to helping students with their professional practice year journey, which includes helping students before, during and after they have completed their professional practice year.
- Professional Practice Year preparation with 1-to-1 sessions to support your research and search
- Finding opportunities to apply to and advertising them on BREO and via e-mail
- Showing students how to find opportunities themselves and in their chosen sector
- Support with CVs, cover letters, applications, interviews and generic advice and guidance
- Initial Approval
- Supporting the identification of and overcoming barriers to employment
- Pastoral support during that year
- Monitoring tutor visits
- Conducting visits on placement outside tutor visits (if required)
- Getting feedback regarding person development from the employer that can be used for personal development
- Support identifying and overcoming barriers between students and employers
- Support with building a new community of students in their placement year
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact the Student Development and Awards team for information on professional practice years.