An industrial placement year (sometimes called a 'sandwich' or 'professional training year' is normally a year taken between the second and third years of an undergraduate degree course, but may also contribute towards a masters.
This is a great way of finding out what it’s like to work in industry and gain relevant experience. These placements are often paid, and will help you to make valuable contacts for the future. As recruiters increasingly employ candidates who have already had some work experience with them, performing well during a placement could lead employment after your degree. For information on pharmacy pre-registration placements see the link on the right hand side of this page.
If you’re applying for an industrial placement it’s important to get organised early. Often applications for these placements open in October or November of the year before you would start. This means that you will need to start looking for opportunities and preparing your CV at the end of your first year of university in order to be able to apply in the Autumn term of your second year. If you leave it until after Christmas you may be too late.
Even if you’re organised, finding a placement isn’t always easy, especially as the number available in industry has decreased slightly in recent years. If you can’t find a placement in industry you might decide to take this opportunity to get some experience working in academia, or to look for experience abroad. As many pharmaceutical companies are global, having experience of living in another country and speaking another language can also boost your employability.
If the university course you choose doesn’t offer the opportunity for a placement year, you still have long summer holidays which you can use to gain experience through an internship or work placement.
Try to take up any opportunity to visit a pharmaceutical company and to make contact with people who work for the pharmaceutical industry – this may include asking family, friends or university tutors and careers advisers who may have worked in the industry themselves or have contacts with people who do.
For further help finding companies that offer industrial placements see Pharmaceutical Recruiters.