A number of employers offer short placements to first years, particularly if you are looking at a career in banking, law or professional services. These are often just one week long and usually take place during the Easter break. They are sometimes known as ‘spring weeks’ or ‘talent academies’.
You can also take advantage of the various Insight Days that many companies host to give first year students the chance to experience a day or two in their offices and get a taste of what working for them would be like and the skills you might need to secure a summer internship.
First year opportunities can range from campus visits and insight days to a short term placement in the office working on real life projects and tasks and receiving mentoring and training from other professionals.
Applications open in the autumn and the process is similar to that of a 2nd year summer internship or graduate role. Places are very limited so expect to go through a series of stages following your initial application including psychometric tests, assessment centres and interviews.
You will find details of spring placements on each company's own website and can hear about other one-off events such as networking lunches and office visits through the university or social media.
First year opportunities are a great way to get an insight into a company or role without committing a long period of time to working for them before you are sure they are right for you. You might be interested in several different roles and want to narrow down your options before looking at applying to Summer Internships in your second year. Many spring week placements can lead to a fast track onto a company’s summer internship programme for the following year.
Having such experience on your CV will show employers you are serious about working in your chosen profession and having experience of the application process will give you an advantage over other applicants in the future. These events are also a great place to network and make useful contacts.
Whilst any work experience you complete during your degree will be very useful, having worked in the field you hope to go into after university will also develop your commercial awareness and business knowledge. These are key competencies which graduate recruiters will often look at during the recruitment process.
Do not overlook the importance of part-time or casual work as a valuable way to gain experience too. Find more information about other ways for first years to gain experience on the Careers Service Work While You Study page.
1st year opportunities are hard to come by and, as a result, are very competitive to secure. Accountancy, Engineering, Investment banking and Law are the common areas offering first year work experience.
However, even if you don’t intend to pursue a career specifically in one of these roles you will develop other important skills such as communication, leadership, problem-solving, time management and team work. And they are still a useful way to gain experience within a company you are interested in applying to next year.
A variety of companies offer short spring internships and even more run Insight Days and similar one-off events:
EY (Leadership Academy)
Deloitte (Spring into Deloitte)
KPMG (Spring Internship)
PwC (Insight Day, Talent Academy, Shadow a Female Leader)
Unilever (Spring Programme)
Accenture (Mission Control)
BDO (Insight days)
Metaswitch Networks (Summer Internship)
Arriva (Summer Internship)
BNP Paribas (Spring Insight)
RBS (Spring Week)
JP Morgan (Spring Week)
FreshLook is an event specifically designed to introduce female first year students to investment banking and is run in association with Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, HSBC, Goldman Sachs.
You can find more information and apply directly through the careers pages of each company's website. You can also find details of the opportunities available on websites such as Rate my Placement and TARGETjobs. CareersLink is another great place to find first year opportunities.
If you are looking for one off events such as presentations or networking sessions you will also find these advertised on facebook groups, e-mails from university staff and through word of mouth e.g. from societies such as UMAS.
You can find a folder of student feedback on different stages of various companies' recruitment processes, and information about the companies themselves, in the Careers Service reference library in The Atrium, University Place.