The Year in Industry
There's a fantastic scheme in the UK which matches up school leavers with organisations for a 'year in industry' before they go to university.
The Year in Industry Scheme (YinI) is fantastic - you tell them what type of work you're interested in, companies say what type of placement they are looking for and the scheme interviews both parties to find a suitable fit. Year in Industry placements are not a basic intern, they are found meaningful positions and are treated as part of the company.
Louise during her year in industry
The YinI acts as mentors for the placement and send you on a management course to achieve an NVQ level 3 with each assignment relating to your company. This not only gets you out meeting other people working in different companies (through the same scheme) but makes you ask questions within the company and look further a field.
I was lucky enough to be do a 'year in industry' after finishing my A Levels before going to university. I knew I didn't want to go straight to university, didn't know what course I should study, thought I wanted to be a car designer and definitely knew that I needed to get out and earn some money.
I was placed in the R&D department of a rail fastenings company and the image is a photo of me with my team on a railway line in London where we had been measuring rail deflections! Not something I ever felt I would end up doing but such amazing experience at the age of 18.
The year made me understand how a company ran, gave me structure and taught me discipline. I learnt how to work with lovely people, difficult people and very senior people. I earnt some money (albeit it a small amount), had plenty of fun and felt I was able to make better informed decisions about working in later life.