Autumn is a key period in the internship and graduate recruitment calendar. While more senior roles may be advertised throughout the year, and apprenticeships are often advertised in the early Spring, in the competitive graduate and internship market, recruiters begin their recruitment drive as soon as the semester begins. 

If you are at university or college, enhancing your learning, particularly through work experience, will help you graduate with all the necessary ‘employability’ skills and knowledge recruiters are looking for, particularly important as competition for internships and graduate jobs has increased. 

First years

It’s never too early to be thinking about getting experience. Start planning now for a summer opportunity next year. Update your CV and have it checked by a careers advisor – you may find that the advice is very different to the CV advice you got at school! Explore work experience opportunities. You could work for a flying club, help out at an airfield, work on a historical project such as rebuilding a vintage aircraft at a heritage site or museum, work in customer services for an airline/airport operator … By using your vacation periods constructively, you can build up your CV and make useful contacts.

Penultimate Years 

Now is the time to look for a summer internship or one-year sandwich placement! Summer placements are often project-based, working on a specific task or carrying out a particular aspect of an ongoing project. Sandwich placements usually last between 10-12 months, giving you the opportunity to settle into the company, develop your skills and understanding, take responsibility for a project or task and gain in-depth understanding of internal and external company operations. 

Work-based learning can be invaluable, particularly if an assessed component of your degree. You can compare theoretical models with workplace application, appreciate factors such as customer requirements, budgetary and technological constraints, competition, and develop your ability to work with people, perhaps in multi-disciplinary teams, to a deadline, overcoming problems or challenges. The value of a placement is so high, that many employers use the placement as a recruitment tool for graduate schemes, and, although placement recruitment is competitive, the reward may be the offer of a graduate job in your final year, freeing up time to concentrate on your studies. 

Both summer and sandwich placement recruitment usually start each Autumn of the academic year, so now is the time to start making applications. Remember, as well as larger companies, look for opportunities in small and medium-sized companies (SMEs).

Final Years

If you are hoping to be in a graduate job to start in September after you graduate, you need to start applying one year in advance of the start date! All major graduate employers start their recruitment programmes in Autumn and online applications often close by 31 December. 

What can you offer employers? How do they recruit – by CV and letter, or an online application form? How long does it take to fill in an online application? If you haven’t done one before, it might be longer than you think! Do you know what soft skills are? Can you articulate yours?  Do you enjoy interviews? How would you perform at an Assessment Centre? What questions do aptitude tests ask and where can you have a go and get some feedback? How many companies should you apply to ensure you get a job? 

Remember: employers are not only interested in your educational background, but also the skills and abilities that will enable you to blend in with their existing staff, maximise your personal development and contribute to the company’s development and ultimately profits. Larger employers receive at least 10,000 graduate applications each year; therefore there are no guarantees you will make it to the next stage. Look out for smaller companies – ‘SMEs’ –  and apply to as many as possible! Check out the Careers in Aerospace directory for new companies. Prepare for recruitment tools such as aptitude testing, group exercises and interviews to make the most of any that come your way. 

If you don’t think you have all-round experience and the soft skills they are looking for, think about getting additional experience such as through volunteering, taking up a sport, becoming a student ambassador or getting promotion in your part-time job. 

Royal Aeronautical Society’s FREE careers services

RAeS 1-2-1 Careers appointments  

For a personalised Careers session, book an individual appointment at our London office – from your CV and personal skills, to specific career development questions. The service is free of charge and unlimited and available throughout the year to all ages and special interest areas covered by the Royal Aeronautical Society. 

Uni and College Careers  Workshops 
Can’t make it to London? Let the RAeS come to you! For groups of 10 aerospace/aviation students or more, we will come to your organisation to run a one-hour workshop on CVs, skills and professional development advice.

The workshops will help you better understand the recruitment process, look at how you can articulate your skills and experiences on paper and at interview and job-hunting advice to ensure you are aware of the vast number of aerospace opportunities out there. Following the workshops, time permitting, Speedy CV 1-2-1s to look over individual CVs are offered.

This article was first published in our Career Flightpath specialist careers magazine, issue 3. For your free copy, please email us with your name and postal address. 

Coming to a campus near you this semester!

Meet the Careers team this semester:

  • 23 October – Queen Mary University – Engineering Careers Day, 15.00-17.00

  • 24 October – Sheffield Hallam University – RAeS Careers Workshop 10-13.00

  • 29 October – University of Hertfordshire – Engineering Careers Fair, 14.00-17.00

  • 3 November – University of Liverpool – RAeS Careers Workshop, 15.00-18.00

  • 21 November – Craven College – Aviation Academy, Leeds – RAeS Careers Workshop – time tbc

Careers in Aerospace LIVE – Friday 7 November 

Meet the RAeS Careers team and recruiters from across the aerospace and aviation industry at our annual recruitment fair on 7 November at our London HQ. All visitors must pre-book – visit the event information web page for more details. 

Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7670 4325

RAeS Careers
22 October 2014