Placement Year? Can’t I Just Do a Summer Internship?

The following blog post was submitted by 3rd year BSc Accounting & Finance student, Joe Knowles who is currently on a placement at Morgan Stanley.

When it comes to applying for grad jobs, everyone knows the benefits of having work experience on your CV, and some individuals will even secure a grad job off the back off an internship!

“But if all you need is some work experience, what’s the point of doing a year-long internship when you could just do a summer internship?”


Why should I?I always get asked this question at open days and, based on my own experience, here’s what I have to say:

The experience and exposure you gain on a placement year is far more powerful.

Placement positions are usually permanent roles. They are set up so that the placement student carries out tasks that are integral to the team. You’ll take over from the previous placement student and hand over to the next one when your year is up. In contrast, summer interns will often find themselves being given ad hoc tasks to keep them busy that don’t really add value to the team they’re placed with for 8 weeks.

Spending a whole year in a role will truly make you realise if it’s what you want to do long-term.

Over a short summer, you get caught up in the excitement and novelty of it all and won’t have fully considered what it’ll be like doing that type of role for the rest of your career.

People think they know what a role involves, but they don’t really.

So the job you’ve just started turns out to be very different compared to your expectations…better to find that out on a placement than at the beginning of a grad scheme! (Of course, you can pull out of a grad scheme, but you’ll have to wait another year for the next grad cycle to begin).

If this did happen to you on placement, you might think, “I still have to do this for another 11 months!” Well, you can use those 11 months to find out about the other roles in your industry that may interest you, and then use this informed viewpoint to stand out during grad applications.

If you’re really keen, you still have the opportunity to apply for a summer internship straight after! (if your placement finishes in June)

If, like me, you don’t believe you can truly know what you want to do for a career after experiencing one role in one industry, you still have the summer free to apply to an entirely different internship.

Unlike those who go straight into a grad job with no prior internships, I’ll have two different experiences behind me. So when I come to apply for grad jobs, I’ll be able to focus my efforts on securing a role that I’ll want to do for the foreseeable future.

(Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking a long summer instead…)


Yet, despite these advantages, some still worry about undertaking a placement year. I’ve attempted to quell some concerns I hear below:

“I don’t want to delay graduating by a year”

What’s the rush? There’s no benefit to speeding through uni to then end up in a position you’re not happy with. Do the year in industry and then revaluate what you really want from your career.

You don’t lose out financially either. Placement years often pay very competitive salaries. Think of it as earning the salary you would get from the first year of a grad scheme before you’ve even graduated! (With a healthier bank balance, you’ll probably enjoy final year more too).

“I don’t want to leave my friendship group behind”Missing friends

Placement years are growing in popularity, so it’s likely your course mates will be going on placement too. You’ll also probably know people on other 4-year courses (e.g. Masters, Erasmus).

“A placement year seems like a lot more effort”

I won’t humour this point for too long as that’s the reality of working life, but look at it like this: Would you rather do a placement, go back to the comforts of uni for a year and reassess your goals…or: Jump in the deep end by going for a grad job fresh out of uni with no experience, discover you don’t like it, and then despair thinking, “what have I done? I’ve chosen the wrong grad scheme!”

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