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Career Options in Science: Student

Studying at science related degree at university? Carrying your degree into a sciences career is a natural choice for many. What kinds of things could you do right now to give your chances in this sector a boost?

Undergraduate opportunities in sciences

- Internships

- Volunteer work at university

- Sandwich placements

Excellent news for anyone interested in a sciences career: this sector has myriad structured opportunities for work experience in almost any area of science imaginable! You can start applying for these opportunities from your first year – no need to hang about!

Pharmaceutical companies, energy companies, medical research organisations (including charities), engineering companies, editorial departments of scientific journals and research departments at universities are keen to involve science subject students to get involved with the work they do. After all, it’s the best way of training up the next generation of inventors, researchers and scientists to ensure the work they do is carried on by the world’s top scientific brains. There are jobs you’ll be able to do in term time, such as work in a university scientific journal or supporting work in lab research, as well as more extended periods of work experience in holiday time.

There are both paid and unpaid opportunities for work experience with these companies, organisations and universities – both in the UK and abroad! Some internships for charities can be unpaid, but they may provide a stipend to support you with things like travel costs. There is also a pot of potential funding money available from sources such as the research councils, who will consider applications for funding for scientific research and worthwhile projects.

Sciences courses are particularly popular for sandwich placement options. A year out of university in what would be your third year spent working in a scientific area you’re interested in, learning new skills working professionals in that field, can be an ideal way to help you figure out what you want to do in your career.   

Top tips

If you have an opportunity to do a year in industry, then you should definitely give it some serious consideration. It’s a way to make you really stand out from other applicants. Think about it: if you were an employer receiving applications from two students with exactly the same degree and degree classification, would you pick the one who’d done nothing but stay in the university bubble for three or four years, or the one with an extra year spent working full-time on a relevant placement?

With so many other science graduates out there, you really need to make the most of the opportunities available to you in your university years to give yourself the best shot you can in the graduate job hunt!

Deadlines to consider

Some opportunities at your university will be advertised in your department, and could emerge throughout the year. This means you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled and jump on these as they appear. The sooner the better to show you’re keen; competition could be quite high!

Summer internships will have varying deadlines depending on each individual company or organisation. The best thing to do is to make a shortlist of opportunities you’re interested in the first few weeks of your university year and get your applications in well ahead of those deadlines to avoid any nasty clashes and extra stress with your coursework deadlines and exams.