Vacation work is any work experience undertaken in University vacations from your first year onwards. It is important to gain work experience to show employers that you are familiar with life in a work environment. Vacation work helps further develop general employability skills (such as time keeping, professionalism, customer awareness), even though it may not be relevant to your ultimate final career, and provides a broad range of experiences. This might include overseas experiences, such as working in summer camp, or working in hospitality or retail. All work experience is good experience, and helps provide a stepping stone to the next stage of your career. You might also be interested in gaining experience by volunteering or by working abroad during vacations.
"Internship" is an alternative term for undergraduate placements, which is increasingly used in the UK. It can refer to a short period of relevant work experience within a specific industry, and can be full-time or part-time. Most internships in the UK are paid, though the amount varies between companies. Interns often undertake a set project, and like placements, internships allow students to network and make useful industry contacts. The term is generally interchangeable with "placements".
Formal placements are usually available to students in their penultimate year of undergraduate study, though in some cases they can be open to students with two years of study remaining. Placements can vary in length from a few weeks during the summer vacation, to a full year "sandwich placement", where the placement is an assessed part of the degree. Some courses at the University of Aberdeen have the opportunity to undertake a sandwich placement.
Some larger employers use placements as part of their graduate recruitment process. After the student has successfully completed the placement, the host company may offer the student a graduate position a full year before the student completes their degree studies. The 2014 "High Fliers" report states that the proportion of new graduates recruited directly through employers’ work experience programmes was a record 37% in 2013. As with Internships, most placements are paid.