Choosing your Year in Industry placement

In this blog, DVLA’s Year in Industry students reflect on their thought process of searching for a placement opportunity. The Year in Industry programme is part of DVLA’s commitment to become a Centre of Digital Excellence (CoDE).

Forming part of DVLA’s generational approach, CoDE offers a range of development opportunities designed to attract and retain the next generation of digital and technology talent. The Year in Industry scheme offers university students the ability to take a year out of their studies to join the agency where can they learn and develop new skills in their desired profession. In addition to the Year in Industry scheme, DVLA have launched a Digital Academy which offers an entry route into software and cloud engineering for candidates aspiring for a career in digital. The agency is also currently rolling out their apprenticeship programme.

With students currently considering future career opportunities, we’re giving our current Year in Industry students the opportunity to share their personal experiences of finding a placement. Twelve months ago, they were balancing the challenge of finding a placement with their studies. Today we hear from Jamie, Jonathan, Matthew and Ross who share how they managed this.

Jamie Quinn – Software Engineer:

Searching for my year in industry placement was an exciting learning experience. My top tips for future students are to brush up on Git standards (a software that tracks changes to projects) don’t be afraid to ask questions, stay positive when facing challenges and have fun! Gradcracker (a careers website for STEM students), university emails, and employer talks are fantastic resources for finding openings. Considering logistics is also important, I live local to DVLA so walking to work wasn’t an issue and there are also park and ride services available.

For STEM interviews and assessments, remember they are evaluating problem solving abilities more than coding proficiency. Ask for clarification when needed and take time to think through your responses. This is something that really helped me during the interview process, the panel were always happy to repeat the question. I’m glad that I applied to DVLA and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience so far. With an open and proactive mindset, you’ll find a rewarding placement.

Jonathan Lim – Software Development in Test:

One tip I would give while in a Year in Industry programme is to focus on self-improvement during the year. Anything you feel interested in, focus on it during the year. DVLA and my team have helped me focus on getting experience, getting into courses and getting to know more people, which will all be helpful for me in the long run. Remember to prepare for accommodation and transport beforehand! Always account for the nearest transport, make sure it is commutable and that you have access to what you need.

When it comes to job adverts, since I’m working at DVLA, I would recommend keeping an eye on Civil Service Jobs, there are definitely hidden gems floating around. However, LinkedIn is also a good shout, and pay attention to university career services too. For interviews, they are probably the most challenging. Make sure you have a clean, tidy attire and be confident while presenting your thoughts, and don’t be stressed from taking time to find the perfect answer. To reflect on my actions, I wish I had better prepared for common interview questions and practiced my responses better. Early on, when applying to various jobs, I did not hone my interview skills enough and would fumble on critical moments. Although I’ve managed to improve my skills in a short span of time and secured the placement at DVLA, it’s something I’ve been aiming to work on in the future.

Matthew Salter – Software Engineer:

During my placement search, I learned valuable lessons that I believe would benefit any upcoming Year in Industry students. Firstly, I want to emphasise the importance of not being nervous about what you don’t know. DVLA and my team welcomed my existing skillset and emphasized that everything can be learned on the job with dedication and effort. Additionally, I recommend attending university lectures and sessions that offer advice on good sites to find adverts and help in improving the quality of your CV. It’s also essential to check the Civil Service Jobs site as this is where you can find opportunities with government agencies such as DVLA.

When it comes to interviews and assessment centres, don’t feel pressured to have extensive coding experience. Problem-solving skills are often more valued and harder to learn on the job. Looking back, the only thing I wish I had done differently is not worrying as much in the first semester about the lack of placements available in South Wales. There were many more opportunities after Christmas, and with consistent checking, I realised that there were numerous choices in the area.

Ross Couch – Strategy and Communications:

Thinking back to 12 months ago when I was searching for a placement, I could’ve really benefited from hearing a current student’s experience. One thing I would suggest to students considering a placement is to give yourself lots of options by applying for lots of roles, including ones where you’re not sure if it’s the correct fit for you. Use a range of sites to see what’s out there including LinkedIn,, RateMyPlacement, and the resources your university employability team provides. I found the resources that my university (Swansea University) employability team provides helpful. They publish a dashboard showing live placement opportunities and they also run an Instagram page where they post daily adverts, so make use of the help and support available to you. It’s also important to take into account non-work-related factors such as accommodation and the commute to work. With DVLA being based just off the M4 in Morriston, it’s easy to commute to whether that’s from the city or from further afield in South Wales.  When it comes to interviews and assessment centres, be confident, showcase your skills and don’t be afraid to speak up and ask any questions. Although it can be stressful finding a placement, my advice is to stay resilient and give your all to every application you submit. You may end up getting the one you least expect.

New Apprenticeship Opportunities in ITS!

DVLA are currently rolling out their apprenticeship programme, with many roles across the digital and technology sector set to go live soon.

Click the link below if you’re interested in finding out more about these roles!