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Work placements are a valuable part of your degree. They are your opportunity to explore potential career paths, gain invaluable work experience to boost your CV, develop vital transferable skills, build industry networks and get a taste for the real world of work.

You can even explore new countries by working abroad.

It is an important step in your university journey and will help you transition from a student to a young professional once you graduate.

In a competitive graduate job market, gaining work experience through a year in industry will enhance your employability and help you stand out from the crowd.

Employers seek graduates with relevant work experience because they’ve already gained broad business awareness and workplace skills which is a significant advantage.

Key points on placements

  • This experience is invaluable in preparing you for a successful future and career.
  • The experience, skills and networks that you build on placement will help you compete for future available graduate opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Students normally spend a year on placement, any variation to this must be agreed with your placement tutor.
  • Your placement tutor and Employability & Careers will help you plan your placement experience for 2023/24.

Routes to placement

We are delighted to offer you levels of flexibility alongside the one year placement to ensure you gain the best placement for you and achieve the Diploma in Professional Practice.

We strongly recommend that you contact your course director or placement tutor when choosing your preferred placement route.

  • ¬†Professional Work Placement

    In summary

    • Year-long placement, typically 48 weeks.
    • Any variation to full-time supervised placement must be approved.
    • Placement should be secured before 31st August 2023

    Details

    Students’ can register for a Diploma in Professional Practice module if a placement opportunity is approved by the placement tutor. Enhanced flexibility for combined experiences or hybrid and remote working will be accommodated if required.

    Fees

    The fees rate for 2023/24 has not been agreed, during 2022/23 students pay £2300 for placement year.

    Once you are registered on placement you are liable for half fees which are paid in instalments between September and April.

    If you commence a placement and it does not work out after a few weeks you will be given time and support to find a new placement opportunity or alternatively undertake a leave of absence.

  • Enterprise Placement Year

    Enterprise Placement Year

    In summary

    • Hybrid learning programme
    • Develop a business idea that you will launch
    • Assigned an industry, university and alumni mentor
    • funding and business development opportunities available
    • Coaching 1:1s at least once a month

    Details

    This route is an extension of the Diploma in Professional Practice.

    It is suitable for students who wish to set up a company or social enterprise, operate as a sole trader or provide consultancy services on a freelance basis and is available for up to 20 students.

    Students will gain the following benefits:

    • Be assigned an industry mentor, university mentor and alumni mentor for the 10 months
    • Receive advice and information on opportunities to pitch for funding
    • Join a local accelerator and receive one-to-one coaching at least once a month
    • Get free access to a range of workshops and development opportunities throughout the year

    By the end of the 10 months students will have created a revenue generating asset, shaped their own job and potentially created jobs for others. You will also be awarded a Diploma in Professional Practice.

    Students’ can register for the Diploma in Professional Practice module in enterprise if they have successfully applied for Enterprise Placement Year and the placement opportunity is approved by the placement tutor.

    Fees

    The fees rate for 2023/24 has not been agreed, during 2022/23 students pay £2300 for placement year.

    Once you are registered on placement you are liable for half fees which are paid in instalments between September and April.

    If you commence Enterprise Placement Year and it does not work out after a few weeks you will be given time and support to find a new placement opportunity or alternatively undertake a leave of absence.

Arranging a placement

It is your responsibility to secure a placement, however we are on hand to support with this and help prepare you for interview and the working environment.

Employers

You can target employers directly to find and arrange work placements through network links such as LinkedIn, alumni, business publications, etc.

If you're arranging your own work placement, ask for the terms to be agreed in writing beforehand, as some placements are not covered by employment legislation.

If you're in any doubt about the organisation or the activities, you should seek further advice from our Employability Team.

Handshake

Placement opportunities will be listed on our career platform Handshake.

It is the student’s responsibility to regularly check this platform and apply for relevant opportunities.

Students may also seek opportunities by contacting employers directly and through the use of network links such as LinkedIn, alumni and business publications.

Enrolment and registration

You will be guided by your course team and placement tutor on registering for placement, choosing the best placement route for you as well as enrolment for commencement in September.

Depending on the option selected, mode of attendance and scale of fees, liability will be applied.

Placement Location

Placements may not necessarily be full-time in the workplace.

Placements may need to be carried out ‘off site’ through remote working, or by undertaking a series of virtual projects/internships either individually or as part of a group.

The University will provide ongoing support to help you to navigate this new way of working and ensure you are aware of all health and safety requirements expected of you and your employer.  At an early stage of your placement or internship experience you will need to complete your Health, Safety and Wellbeing Induction Check and return that to the University.

  • Onsite

    Onsite Placements

    The employer will have steps in place to ensure the duty of care to you whilst in placement to support your health, safety and wellbeing:

    • Keep you updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace
    • Ensure social distancing is adhered to in the workplace, particularly if you are in a vulnerable group. If you are in an extremely vulnerable group, you should be shielded and supported to work remotely
    • The employer will have emergency contact details for you on file
    • Ensure you are aware of how to spot symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and you are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace is potentially infected and needs to take the appropriate action
    • Provide information on where to obtain hand sanitiser and encourage you to wash hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water
  • Virtual/ Remote Placements

    Virtual/ Remote Placements

    We understand that by not being onsite for your placement you may feel you are missing out on the full work experience, however there are similarities:

    • You are part of a team – You can ask questions and receive support. You will be assigned a mentor and they will provide guidance and the resources you may require.
    • Communication – You will be in daily contact with your team and supervisor using multiple channels such as email, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams meetings, phone, etc.
    • Supervisor/manager to report to – They will work closely to mentor you to develop a good working relationship. You will learn new skills and build on your confidence in your abilities.
    • Project-based work – You may be tasked to work on a project, giving you a taste of what the working world is really like. You will have the flexibility to devise your own schedule as all assignments are carried out online.

    Get the most from your placement

    In this current climate, taking part in a virtual/remote placement will be admirable to prospective employers.

    To make the most of your experience:

    • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and support from your colleagues
    • Contribute to online team meetings and networking sessions
    • Take part in any available training
    • Seek feedback and learn from it
    • Have good organisational and time management skills so that you can prioritise and complete tasks promptly
  • International Placements

    International Placements

    UMAL, the University’s Insurance company providing travel cover will comply with the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office travel guidance. Students should read and be aware of the current advice for any destination they wish to travel to.

    Students who intend going abroad must complete the Travel Preparation Assessment Form prior to their travel. This mandatory form will help the placement coordinator/tutor and Employability & Careers assess the potential risks of the student’s mobility.

    The aims of the form are to:

    1. Help the student to prepare for their time abroad.
    2. Identify in advance any problems they may have during their time abroad relating to the environment in which they will be living and working, the activities they will be undertaking, and their day-to-day life.
    3. Consider ways of reducing the potential for these problems by using the information and resources available here at the University before they leave.

Paid and Unpaid Placements

Where possible students are encouraged to secure paid employment that is within national minimum wage / living wage legislation, although depending on industry sector and experience it may not always be possible to meet this expectation.

The University encourages employers to compensate students on placement, treating them as employees where possible.

Available Support

Our team of Employability Advisors are here to support you every step of the way. Get in touch to access support for the following:

  • Placement search and applications
  • CV and interview preparation
  • Placement retractions
  • Understanding placement offers and conditions

Book your one-to-one appointment or email careers@ulster.ac.uk.

You can also access our range of digital tools to support you in applying for placement opportunities ulster.ac.uk/employability/tools.

Keep up to date

Employability Advisers are well placed to help you with the changes and challenges presented in new and flexible hybrid and remote working practices.  We will routinely communicate via the University website and your placement tutor will engage with you to provide guidance.

As we respond to ongoing impacts of COVID we are ensuring that students are fully informed of the latest official advice from the Public Health Agency NI and continue to issue and update advice and guidance on this website.

Contact your placement tutor/coordinator or alternatively email placements@ulster.ac.uk if you have any further queries regarding placement.