PAC supports industrial training in the firm belief that it will ultimately enhance the students’ ability to obtain employment and broaden their outlook on chemistry whilst improving personal and interpersonal skills. The Industrial Placement Scheme offers MChem students an insight into the workplace, during their Degree Programme, providing a unique opportunity to appreciate how their studies will impact in industry, government or University laboratories.
The PAC Industrial Placement scheme has been operating for over 30 years and has grown in international reputation into one of the largest endeavours of any University in Europe. The Department has a track record of providing enthusiastic and motivated students which has helped it to develop strong links with industrial chemical companies; whether global (e.g. GSK, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca), SMEs or University spin out companies. Annually, 50 – 80 students are placed in industry in the UK, Europe and further afield. Strong engagement with companies during the selection and interview process helps to align the students to particular placements based on an assessment of their qualifications, interests, backgrounds and career aspirations. This high level of interaction is necessary to ensure maximum success. Whist on placement there is still a strong academic link as each student is given an individual academic supervisor who acts as the first point of contact for the student and industrial supervisor. The academic supervisor will also visit the student twice whilst on placement and several industrial colleagues have highlighted this level of interaction as being one of the reasons they continue to work with the Department each year. It should also be noted that our regular industrial contacts also choose students from our Degree Programme as they undertake a 12 month placement rather than a shorter duration as offered by other University Placement Schemes. All MChem Degrees which involve the industrial placement are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
As student numbers rise and industrial opportunities become less, in more difficult economic times, it is not always possible to secure industrial placements for all students across all MChem Degree Programmes. To overcome this challenge the Department introduced alternative placement opportunities by offering in-house Research Placements or Knowledge Exchange Placements.
Some students will have geographic limitations for various personal reasons and there needs to be provision of industrial placements in and around Glasgow.
Staff commitment: at the beginning of the academic session every 3rd year MChem student must be interviewed to determine which areas of chemistry they are interested in and to find out if there are any personal circumstances that need to be taken into account. This involves a team of approximately 6-8 members of academic staff over an intensive 2 week period.
Student preparation: despite providing specialist careers advice in most situations it is essential that the academic staff provide a significant amount of support to ensure the students provide a good quality C.V. and covering letter.
Financial support must also be considered. If interviewed at site the student’s travel (and accommodation if necessary) is arranged in advance by the Industrial Placement administration assistant to ensure the student is not financially disadvantaged. The costs are then later reimbursed later by the company. The Department must also have funds available to pay for academic supervisor visits to every student; although on the odd occasion when students are in e.g. New Zealand, Skype meetings have been arranged.
Students have the opportunity to find out the area of chemistry that they would like to pursue in their future career. Equally, some students find out that they do not wish to work in specific areas of chemistry after their industrial placement experience! However, overall the students enjoy the experience and many are invited back to their company as a graduate after they finish their Degree Programme.
Currently all MChem students are involved in the scheme, therefore the placement experience will not be scaled further.
The MChem Industrial placement process could potentially be rolled out to other Departments.