A sandwich year sounds like a tasty option for boosting your employability. Here we explain all the info you need, in bitesize chunks, including how much it’ll cost you and how to apply.
What is a sandwich year?
Put simply, a sandwich year is a nine to 12 month full time placement in industry. You’ll usually take the sandwich year after two years of study with us on your degree course.
You’ll gain hands-on experience in a work environment for around a year, before returning to university to complete your degree in your final year.
So, it’s a year of working in the industry you’re interested in (the filling) surrounded by the degree programme you’ve chosen to study. Which is why it’s known as a sandwich year.
Are you able to apply?
If you are studying an undergraduate degree or integrated master’s degree in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences or an Applied Health and Social Care degree at Edge Hill, you may be able to undertake an optional sandwich year.
While on your placement you will usually become a paid employee of the organisation you are joining and be assigned a range of duties and responsibilities, however there may be some circumstances where the position is unpaid.
You will also complete at least two assignments for your department which will enable you to connect your sandwich year with your academic work.
You’ll need to find and successfully secure a suitable work placement opportunity to complete for your sandwich year. But we’re here to support you.
Contact the Placements Team in the relevant Faculty for the information, advice and support you need:
Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Placements Team
Administration Team for Applied Health and Social Care
A sandwich year enables you to apply the knowledge gained during your degree to actual business situations.
You’ll equip yourself with a transferable skillset and gain invaluable work experience that will boost your employability when applying for graduate jobs in the future.
By undertaking a sandwich year, you will:
- Gain practical experience of a specific role, company, industry or sector relevant to your chosen area of study
- Take on real responsibility and increase your confidence
- Earn a salary from your employer (some exceptions may apply)
- Develop transferable skills
- Equip yourself with a better understanding of the world of work
- Learn from experienced professionals
- Try out a career choice to see if it’s right for you
A sandwich year also provides a fantastic opportunity to network and, if you impress your employer, you may even find you have a job waiting for you when you graduate.
You’ll also learn valuable skills as you apply for sandwich year placements due to the similarities with recruitment processes for graduate jobs. For example, you can expect to gain experience in preparing applications, writing a CV and covering letter, and preparing for interviews.
Sandwich years are available across a broad range of job areas and industries, including science, IT, media and business, with many of the UK’s top graduate employers offering sandwich year opportunities.
There are lots of year-long placements available in the UK, as well as opportunities to spend a sandwich year working overseas. The two main ways of securing a sandwich year placement involve applying for advertised positions or seeking out hidden opportunities through speculative applications.
Placement opportunities are advertised in a variety of places, from dedicated websites to social media channels.
Before you start looking for placements, you should think about what kind of graduate job you might like at the end of your degree and whether any particular organisations interest and inspire you.
Our Careers Centre can help you think about your future career to inform your decision-making in identifying a relevant sandwich year opportunity.
Websites which advertise sandwich year placements include:
- E4S – https://www.e4s.co.uk/jobs/3-industrial-placements.htm
- GraduateJobs.com – www.graduate-jobs.com/internships
- Indeed – www.indeed.co.uk/Year-Industrial-Placement-Application-jobs
- LinkedIn – uk.linkedin.com/jobs/industrial-placement-jobs
- Milkround – www.milkround.com/jobs/internships
- Prospects – www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/work-experience-and-internships
- Student Ladder – www.studentladder.co.uk/industrial-placements/
- RateMyPlacement – www.ratemyplacement.co.uk/placements
- TARGETjobs – targetjobs.co.uk/internships
It is also often worth checking the websites of specific companies directly or looking at their Facebook page or Twitter feeds. By following any companies you are interested in, you will see opportunities as soon as they arise.
Many students also identify opportunities and secure placements through networking and sending out speculative applications. If you have identified a company you would like to work for, you could approach them directly about possible opportunities by sending a tailored CV and covering letter. TARGETjobs have published a useful guide to making speculative applications which contains further information and advice on being pro-active and chasing hidden sandwich year opportunities.
Make sure you also attend any careers or recruitment fairs on campus. These events provide a great opportunity to not only find out about graduate jobs but also to chat with the organisations in attendance about any placement opportunities that are available.
Although UK universities are entitled to charge fees for sandwich years, Edge Hill is waiving these charges. We will meet the cost of tuition fees for sandwich years through the Student Opportunity Fund.
Eligible UK students can apply for a reduced-rate Maintenance Loan to help with living costs such as food, accommodation and travel.
The amount of Maintenance Loan you can receive is determined by your household income, where you are going to be living while on placement, and additional criteria.
The maximum reduced-rate Maintenance Loan available is:
- £2,205 if you will be living with your parents, £2,940 if you will be living away from home (excluding London), or £4,128 if you will be living independently in London for academic year 2022/23.
In addition to this, you may be eligible for a bursary of £500-£2,000 for a sandwich year through the Student Opportunity Fund. The award amount will depend on the location of your placement and your household income. There is no application process for this bursary as your eligibility will be automatically assessed.
How to apply
Start seeking and applying for opportunities during the second year of your course, from 12 months before you will actually start the placement.
The application process varies between different organisations. You might be asked for a cover letter and CV, to submit an application form, and/or to attend interview and assessment centres.
Applications start to open from September although smaller organisations often start recruiting slightly later in the academic year. Some companies may accept applications all year round but it’s best to start looking as early as possible.
Although you’ll need to identify and apply for sandwich year opportunities, support is available from your academic department, Careers Centre, and the Placements Team in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
This includes guidance on searching for relevant opportunities, the checking of applications and CVs, interview advice, and help with completing the relevant University paperwork when you’ve secured your sandwich year placement.
The sandwich year placement should be relevant to your studies and the specific opportunity will require approval from your programme leader. University paperwork confirming your sandwich year must be completed by the end of May in Year 2.