What is a placement?
'A period of work experience inside or outside of University related to your discipline or for experience.'
Placements usually take place in the Summer between stage 2 and 3 of your degree. External placements may be paid, unpaid, voluntary or involve shadowing and can last weeks or months. University placements are usually between 8-10 weeks and involve a laboratory project. These placements are sometimes referred to as Summer or Vacation Studentships and are paid.
Why should I do a placement?
Any relevant work experience during your degree can greatly increase your employability. Students who have completed University laboratory work often say that it prepared them for their stage 3 project. The University positions are paid, so you would be earning while also learning new skills. Working on a real research project can help you decide if you want to do a further degree (PhD, MRes etc), but will definitely increase your employability and lab skills. You can do a placement at Newcastle University, or externally (other Unis, in industry or abroad).
How do I find a placement?
It is up to YOU to organise a Summer Placement; YOU need to approach academic staff and ask if they would be willing to take you on. Placements are usually only offered to students with a minimum upper second average (>60%) as funding bodies specify this. Research a person’s profile by looking on the University website, find out what they work on and if it interests you (for example you may be fascinated by neurological disease so research staff in the area of neuroscience). NOTE: look further than the staff that have lectured you; there are many research institutes in the faculty of medical sciences: www.ncl.ac.uk/about/peoplestructures/academic/medical.htm
Around December during stage 2, send the person a polite e-mail explaining who you are, your degree, stage 1 marks and say that you would like to do a placement and ask would they be interested in taking you on for a summer placement. Ask if you could meet with them and if they say yes then you could take a copy of the funding opportunities with you (will be promoted from Jan-Feb by the School) . If they agree to take you on they then apply for funding to pay you (this funding is not guaranteed but you will find out if funding was successful around March-April time). See the School pages fro information on previous years: www.ncl.ac.uk/biomed/undergrad/vacstud.htm
What other options are there to get work experience?
You could do a Year in Industry (also called a sandwich year or industrial placement). These are based in pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies and are advertised during the summer (at the end of stage 1), to start at the end of stage 2. The application process is VERY competitive as these are paid positions and can lead to graduate employment. For detailed advice see the Careers info file in the Resource Room and the Careers service website for information.
At stage 2 the 'Lab Assistant Scheme' will be advertised (usually mid-late October). This work is lab based part time and is paid; it is very competitive so you should have your CV up to date to apply.
The Careers Service has an excellent vacanices online service where you can search for opportunities including term time and temporary work : www.ncl.ac.uk/careers/jobs/finding/index.php
You could also think about career related experience look at SCAN (Student Community Action Newcastle) www.unionsociety.co.uk/scan/ (e.g. for medicine you will need healthcare experience). The Careers website can offer ideas: www.ncl.ac.uk/careers/develop/workExperience/
[[|]]For teaching experience consider doing the Student Associates Scheme www.ncl.ac.uk/careers/develop/studentAssociates/
I haven't thought about life after Uni or a future career...
It is never too ealry to start thinking about graduate work. Spending an hour a week on career planning will help you get your dream job. For ideas on what our graduates do, see: www.ncl.ac.uk/biomed/undergrad/careers.htm
To get an idea of what experience you need to help you get the future career you want (or to get ideas about potential careers), see the excellent Prospects website: www.prospects.ac.uk/ or drop in and speak to a careers adviser for advice (Careers Service, King's Gate Building - at Haymarket opposite Campus Coffee).