Work Experience

Obtaining some work experience in a professional career sector will give you an advantage in the job market. Many employers tend to recruit students with work experience over those who lack it.

There are many open days and career specific presentations taking place both within the School of Chemistry and across the University of Manchester. These opportunities are often advertised either by the individual company’s corporate website, or through the Careers Fairs & Events section in CareersLink

Spring Break

During this time of the year, multiple firms offer spring week and insight days where you can undergo a placement lasting from a day to a week. These opportunities can range from campus visits and insight days to a short term office placements working on real life project and tasks, receiving mentoring and training from other professionals.

This is also a great way to get an insight into a company or role without committing a long period of time before you are sure what is right for you. You might be interested in several different roles and want to narrow down your options before applying for 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 also show employers you are serious about working in a certain area, 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.

Applications open in the autumn, and the process is similar to that for 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.

Further details of opportunities are available in the Careers Service Website.

Summer Internships

An internship is a temporary position offered by a business organisation to provide on-the-job training, while assessing a candidate’s potential to work for their company. These opportunities can be paid or unpaid. Summer internships are primarily geared towards penultimate year students. There are a few opportunities also open for students in their first year of study. Some graduate schemes such as those in finance require prior internship experience.

Summer internships are often 6 to 10 weeks long. They take place during June to September, and the deadline and stages of the applications vary depending on the organisation. A few organisations close their applications window before the deadline if they receive an excessive number. Multinational companies tend to close their applications at early stages, whereas small and medium sized companies tend to stay open to applications until right before the summer.

You will tend to be assigned to a Line Manager or Mentor who will monitor your progress during the internship. Employers expect interns to communicate well with their colleagues, as firms assess whether you may be suitable for their graduate schemes in the future. 

During an internship, you will gain practical knowledge of the job sector and become equipped with transferrable skills also applicable to your academic studies. You will learn about the company you work for, developing professional connections and obtaining advice from people already pursuing careers you may consider progressing into. You will undergo a structured training programme offered by the company and be able to shadow senior colleagues.

The Careers Service page on Internships is a useful resource and their Facebook page is kept up to date with information on summer internships and opportunities. You can pick up information or speak to a Careers Consultant directly in the School of Chemistry. Internships are also advertised on CareersLink – the University’s student and graduate jobs portal.

Alternatively, you can contact companies yourself. For small and medium sized companies, even if they do not advertise any internships, you can be proactive and ask whether any such opportunities may be available. 

Industrial Placement

An Industrial Placement is a yearlong work experience offered by a company. These are often referred to as “a year in industry” or “sandwich placement” as they are “sandwiched” between your penultimate and final year of study. The School of Chemistry offers a specific programme called Chemistry with Industrial Experience, where the work you submit during your placement will count towards your final degree mark. 

Voluntary Work

Volunteering is an excellent way of learning new skills and enhancing your CV, while making a difference to either the environment or the people in your community.  Employers value many of the skills that are required in voluntary work. Volunteering opportunities in and around the University are advertised on CareersLink, and the University's dedicated Volunteering and Community Engagement Team can offer you one-to-one advice.  There are hundreds of groups and organisations that require help. Opportunities specifically relevant to Chemistry students include Chemistry Outreach, The Museum of Science and Industry, and STEMNET.

Alternately, if you want to earn a recognised award, undertaking Manchester Leadership Programme is recommended. The programme contains details of some of the organisations offering the opportunity. Further information about the benefits of volunteering can be found on the Careers Service website.

Join the University of Manchester Volunteering Facebook group to hear about news and opportunities available. You can also attend the Volunteering Fair which takes place every October.

Summer Studentship

If you are an undergraduate student interested in the research conducted within the School of Chemistry, this is an activity you may potentially undertake. 

You will be able to conduct research in a field of your interest. You can gain practical knowledge about how to structure your research and examine and develop your hypotheses. You will also be able to develop a better idea of the research you may potentially undertake during your third and fourth year MChem projects. You can also receive advice from people already pursuing the PhD programme. 

There is no official programme for these opportunities. These often take place during the summer, but their duration varies depending on the academic offering the opportunity. There is no set application for the majority of the cases. These opportunities are not advertised, so you have to contact the staff conducting the research in which you are interested and discuss opportunities available. You will be working alongside your mentor or other PhD students and researchers who will monitor your progress during your studentship. You can start by looking into the particular research the School of Chemistry conducts.

Summer Research Abroad

Summer research programmes provide students with opportunities to engage in research offered by foreign universities, allowing students to enhance their research and analytical skills in an international context. Many of Europe and the World’s premiere institutions offer these opportunities to candidates across the globe.

These programmes are often unpaid, however scholarships may be offered depending on the organisation such as Amgen. Amgen is an organisation which allows undergraduates from across the globe to participate in cutting-edge research opportunities at world-class institutions. 17 leading institutions across the U.S., Europe and Japan currently host the summer programme. During the programme, students work full-time on independent research projects under the guidance of a research scientist.

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