Whether you are on a three or four year course, your penultimate year at university is increasingly regarded as a vital time for career planning and gaining work experience. By carefully planning your penultimate year, establishing links with employers and gaining valuable experience, you can put yourself in the best possible position when it comes to applying for jobs. This also means that when it comes to your final year, you can be confident in your position, avoid the last minute panic and focus on what counts: getting the degree results you need to begin the career you want.
So, what should you be doing in your penultimate year?
We look at what you should be doing and when, and give you a handy career planner.
What should I be doing in my penultimate year at university?
You may already have an idea of which employers you want to work for. If not, you can explore the different actuarial employers in our Employer Directory.
Once you have done your initial research, it is best to concentrate your efforts on a focused selection of suitable employers as places for actuarial internships, placements and graduate vacancies are often highly sought after.
What is happening on campus in my penultimate year?
At the beginning of the academic year, usually in October and November, your university careers service will hold autumn careers fairs. These are an ideal chance to meet with employers and discuss the internship and graduate opportunities available to you as well as ask any questions you may have about their recruitment processes.
Employers will also be on campus at various other times in the autumn term holding drop-ins, skills sessions or presentations. We strongly recommend that you go to as many of these as you can, as these will help you identify and hone the skills and competencies valued by graduate employers, such as commercial awareness. You can take a look at our events calendar or visit your careers service to find out about the different opportunities. You can also look on employers websites and social media pages.
How do I get an internship in my penultimate year?
Your second year is an ideal time to apply for internships with big graduate recruiters. Internships give you the opportunity to decide whether a company or industry is right for you and can also lead to securing a graduate job with the same company. RSA, for example, do not advertise for graduate vacancies but instead offer internships and recruit the best candidates from there.
Internships can last from a few weeks to two months, and you will often be paid a wage. This differs to work experience, which is usually up to two weeks and may be unpaid.
These internships will usually take place in the summer between your second and third year, but recruitment for these places begins a lot earlier. Ideally, you will need to start applying for these from early September onwards. It is a good idea to apply as early as possible as spaces for internships are always competitive, especially with certain employers and locations.
You can find the latest actuarial internships on our website.
How do I get a placement in my penultimate year?
If you are doing a four year course, you may have the option of studying abroad or doing a placement in your third year. You may have the opportunity to do two six month placements or one twelve month placement.
There is usually dedicated placement staff within your subject department or careers centre to help you organise these. You can find our current placement opportunities here. Alternatively, you can look on your top employer’s websites to see if they offer placements to students.
Don’t forget to update your CV!
If you undertake an internship, a placement, or any form of work experience or shadowing then you will need to remember to update your CV accordingly.
This should also be the case if you are volunteering, you take up part-time work or become more involved in a university society. You can read more about how to include this in your CV here.
Hopefully this has given you a good idea of the sort of thing you should be doing and when in your penultimate year at university. If you do these things this year, it will save a lot of stress when it comes to your final year. Take a look at our handy career planner calendar for an overview of what you should be doing and when.