With the job market increasingly competitive even for graduates with top degrees, it helps to gain any edge that will set you apart from the crowd – such as experience of doing real work in the industry in which you wish to make a career.
A work placement not only helps develop students’ existing ability in physics, but also boosts other essential skills such as communication, team-working and project management, and gives an insight into the culture of a particular organisation – and enables an informed decision about future career plans after graduating.
Industry or research?
Students will naturally have more prior experience of academic research than they will of industry. An internship is one way to test the water and find out if a career as a physicist in industry is suitable. You’ll get to see up close how a physics-based business works, and get an idea of how scientific skills might translate to commercial success.
Or perhaps you prefer your physics with less immediate commercial applications and you’re contemplating a career in academia or a dedicated research facility. A placement in that environment will provide essential hands-on experience of real research that will stand you in good stead in the future, as well as illustrating how full-time research differs from similar work undertaken as part of a degree course.