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Work experience doesn’t have to be work experience!

You may be a student or recent graduate, or thinking about a sideways move into an aerospace or aviation related career. Work experience is one of the best ways to find out more about your chose career path, make useful contacts and build up your CV. However, it isn’t always easy to obtain. In this post we suggest different ways you can develop your experience and help you career take off!

Internships and Work Placements

Internships take many forms, from summer placements to one-year ‘sandwich’ placements, usually aimed at undergraduate university students who have completed two years of their degree (sometimes after year three if on an MEng programme). They usually follow the same application patters as graduate employment schemes, with online application forms which open in the previous autumn and close by December. Check out our information and advice on online applications. 

However, some companies, particularly smaller firms (SMEs), may be more flexible, with less restrictions on who can apply and later application date, requesting CV’s and covering letters. They will often advertise opportunities through their local college or university so enrol with the careers service to avoid missing any vacancies. You can also try making ‘speculative’ applications, applying to companies who may not be advertising placements but might be convinced.

More information about writing a good CV can be found here and writing compelling covering letters here.


Airfields and Flying Clubs

Airworthiness and safety are the cornerstone of aviation and aerospace. Understanding safety management systems and aircraft maintenance procedures are essential for maintenance-related roles but developing a safety mindset is invaluable for any aerospace or aviation role. However, accessing placements with airports, airlines and MRO providers can be tricky due to restrictions on age and airside security requirements.

Why not try a flying club? Aviation is not just a business but a hobby to thousands, and around the UK there are many aerodromes with busy flying clubs who could offer experience, giving you an insight into flight operations, maintenance, CAA regulations, airworthiness systems and so on. Whether a two-seater
microlight or 300-seat passenger jet, the focus on safety and accountability doesn’t change. Furthermore, if the aerodrome is close to an area where there is a high density of aero employees, such as a major airport or cluster of aerospace manufacturers, you may make useful connections. Many engineers, aviation professionals and even commercial pilots enjoy flying for fun in their spare time. And general aviation itself offers many great career pathways.

Heritage and Restoration Projects

Many people are passionate about aviation history. Across the UK are many aviation heritage museums – Imperial War Museum, Duxford; RAF Museums Hendon and Cosford; Yorkshire Air Museum,
Elvington; Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton; FAST Museum Farnborough; Jet Age Museum, Cheltenham
and the recently opened Bristol Aero Collection, to name a few. Museums sometimes need volunteers to get
involved in aircraft restoration prospects offering a great way to develop soft skills such as teamwork, protect
management, hand skills and an insight into engineering design. Again, other volunteers may be working in
aerospace by day, and the work can be very enjoyable and a real talking point on your CV.

Make the most of part-time jobs

If you are unable to take on voluntary work, or have been unsuccessful in securing an internship or work placement, don’t panic! All work will give you transferable skills – even if outside aerospace or aviation, so don’t be afraid to highlight part-time jobs in retail or hospitality, or other volunteering/community activities. Employers want to see that you understand customers, can work independently and in a team, are responsible, financially independent, can think creatively and have emotional intelligence. These can come from any working environment, so make the most of what experience you do have, and don’t be afraid to use these examples to highlight your talents.

This news post is taken from an article in issue 5 of our Career Flightpath magazine. For more information and advice about careers in aerospace and aviation, download your free copy here.