School of Computer Science

Year in Industry

These pages are for students on a placement of one year in length as part of a 'with an industrial year' programme of study.

Benefits of an Industrial Placement

The placement year can be a very valuable part of your programme and there are many benefits that you can gain from it. These include:

  • you will learn how an organisation operates
  • you will acquire the interpersonal skills to be effective as part of a team
  • you will gain experience of a real working environment
  • you will apply theory to practice
  • you will see the relevance of your own work in an industrial or commercial context
  • the process of securing a placement position will provide good experience for career job applications
  • you will be assisted in making career choices by your placement experience
  • the placement will provide a real environment to enhance your transferable skills
  • you may be offered a permanent job by the placement company
  • your maturity and motivation will be increased and this may reflect on your effort in the final year and hence your degree classification
  • you will be helping in forging links between the company and your University

Preparing for your Placement

You will need to have registered for the year in industry precourse which you can join by visiting the self-registration link. Please complete Quiz 1 upon first joining the course, update Quiz 2 as your job-search progresses and finally complete Quiz 3 in order to tell us where you intend to go.

Having secured a placement, there are several things that you should bear in mind:

  • find out about any pre-placement requirements (health checks, reading lists etc.)
  • check payment details (provide bank details if required)
  • check accommodation arrangements
  • check travel arrangements
  • check whether a CRB check is required
  • be clear on how you will be assessed
  • identify your own objectives for what you want to achieve in the year
  • check your visa situation and ensure that you are working legally

Work Expectations

Remember that you will be a representative of the University of Birmingham and of the School of Computer Science, and that you are expected to behave in a professional way.

For the duration of your placement, you will become an employee of the company and as such will be required to sign a contract. This will give many in-house benefits (e.g. induction, training, access to library, computers etc., access to sports facilities etc.) but also the responsibilities and demands of industrial life. This includes the non-disclosure of any information the company decides is secret, as well as dismissal for violation of company rules, particularly those regarding safety, which may be very stringent in certain industries.

You will also be a representative of your placement provider and as such you will have responsibilities to their customers and employees. You will be expected to conduct yourself in a professional manner when dealing with internal and external clients. As a student, you must understand that your first duty is to the firm and to whoever is your line manager. At the beginning of the placement you need to know exactly what is expected of you and should take some time over a number of points which will allow the work experience to get off to the proper start:

  • ensure you understand your specific objectives and work programme
  • understand your line manager's role
  • know who your day-to-day supervisor is, and to whom to go for advice if your supervisor is not available
  • ask to have information reconfirmed if you are not sure
  • define your boundaries and responsibilities with your supervisor
  • make sure you understand how your performance will be assessed
  • clarify if you are expected to work overtime
  • familiarise yourself (where appropriate) with GLP, GMP, COSHH and Standard Operating Procedures; failure to adhere to these strict guidelines will probably invalidate anything that you do (also refer to the section on Health & Safety
  • be frank about the errors in your work; think about the accuracy, reliability and significance of your results

The BCS Code of Conduct provides a good overview of the professional standards for software/IT professionals.

References

Much of the text in these placement pages borrows heavily from the following publication:

R Wallace, B Murray and T Overton, Effective Practice in Industrial Work Placement. A Physical Sciences Practice Guide (The HEA Physical Sciences Centre, October 2009). Available online from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/effective_practice_in_industrial_work_placement.pdf.