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Why bother with a Year in Industry? Here’s 5 reasons...

Let me start by asking you a question: why did you come to university? Why are you here and what is your purpose? Most of you are here because you want a job at the end of it all. To have a job, you need someone to employ you. For someone to employ you, you need experience. But in order to get experience, you need a job. But you can’t get a job without experience. Classic Catch-22.

So, coming back to the question in the title: why bother with a year in industry? Aren’t university and society-led projects enough? Sadly, in this day and age, most likely not. And so it all comes down to what I said above: you need real-world experience in order to land that dream job that will get you started in life after graduating. And this is where a year spent in industry comes into play.

When you’re going out to do a year with a real company, you get a unique chance to experience graduate life before finishing your studies. And trust me, that is a priceless experience, for a few of reasons:

  1. You get to apply what you’ve studied in university to real-world problems and scenarios, where there might not a be a right or wrong answer, but multiple shades of grey. And this is when it is up to you to decide which one is the best solution.

  2. You get to experience working culture in industry, and the mindset of working in a company. Trust me: In my opinion, it’s absolutely nothing like what you experience in university. Academics might tell you that a certain project in uni it similar to what they are doing in industry, but they don’t even come close.

  3. You build contacts through networking. Some of you may think that networking is overrated while still being at uni, but trust me, it’s not. They say money makes the world go around but Networking gets your foot in the door.

  4. It builds up your confidence, especially when you are put in the situation of defending your work in front of managers and seniors. Now, don’t get me wrong: they’re not a pack of hungry wolfs trying to discourage you, however, it is their job to question every aspect of what you do in order to make sure that the job is done right.

  5. You might get the chance to discover new things and new fields that you were not exposed to while in University. For example, my background is in aerospace, rocket science and fluid dynamics. However, during my placement, I started chatting to the people working in AI and Machine Learning in my department, although this was not my project, I really liked what they were doing, and 6 month later, here I am doing my dissertation in AI.

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This week, we had our poster presentations. I attached mine below, as a reference of what I’ve done on my placement. This was a good opportunity to meet my fellow colleagues which also did a year out, check out what they were doing and exchange experiences. We also got academics and managers from different companies coming and networking with us, which helped a few of us secure jobs for when we’re graduating in 2019. There will be further events like this one during the year, so keep your eyes open for those career fair emails.

If you guys are thinking about doing a year in industry, check out your department’s web page to find out more. Here is the aerospace one. Also, get in touch with the Careers Service or Engineering Employability Team, as they have tons of good advice and industry links. Finally, if you’re wish to do a year out but your degree does not allow it, here is a guide to how you can switch.

Yours faithfully,

Andrei

PS. Here's my poster. You can also find it at this link.

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