How to find a placement
Competition for the most prestigious placements – those that will really add some gloss to your CV – can be intense, so you’ll need to start looking early. Try to get your search started at the beginning of the year and be making approaches by spring.
First, though, decide on what you want kind of an experience you’re looking for from a placement, what kinds of organisation you might want to work for in the future, and how far you’re prepared to travel.
A simple internet search should turn up plenty of possibilities; there are specialist websites such as the National Council for Work Experience, MilkRound.com or Prospects, and university careers services will also help.
Some employers have, and advertise, formal internship schemes, while others will be happy to take on students on a more casual basis. There is a list of some possible placement opportunities below.
It’s usually better to identify several organisations you’re interested in rather than pinning all your hopes on one. Once you have a shortlist, contact the organisations you want to work for, directly to the relevant person if you know who that is and via the HR department otherwise – and a phone call is generally preferable to email.
If all else fails and you really can’t find a placement in a physics-related area, don’t be disappointed – there are often many more applicants than there are available placements. Instead, consider getting a summer job or volunteering – any work experience can still prove useful.
You can also use the IOP’s online professional-development tools to record and reflect on all extracurricular activities, including placements.