Frequently Asked Questions

What is SPIN?

The Space Placements in INdustry seeks to provide project placements within companies and research organisations for those wishing to undertake a short-term summer placement within the space sector. It is recognised that all high tech industry sectors need STEM graduates in order to grow their business areas, and the space sector is no different. Through SPIN, the sector is ensuring that the brightest and best people are encouraged to focus their attention on space for their careers.

Employer Benefits

  • Carry out a piece of work or project that you otherwise would not have time for
  • Identify potential employees for the future
  • ‘Try before you buy’ and save your company significant recruitment costs
  • Be part of the feedback loop to universities on the skills you would like to see in your employees of the future
  • Influence the future choices the student will make

Spintern Benefits

  • A paid work placement that will give you a very tangible experience to add to your CV
  • Unique induction event which will give you a perspective of the active and vibrant space sector in the UK
  • Showcase event which will enable you to promote yourself and the skills you’ve learnt to a wider community of potential employers
  • Learn first hand the skills that employers really want
  • All Spinterns hosted by companies new to the scheme will be visited by a manager of the SPIN scheme during their placements, and all students are encouraged to engage with the scheme manager throughout and after their placement.

For Employers, what happens?

  1. Employers identify and scope a project, with pertinent information
  2. Send it to the SPIN office
  3. SPIN will advertise it for 4 weeks, inviting those eligible to apply through an online form with CV
  4. SPIN will target particular university departments to highlight your opportunity
  5. SPIN will collate all applications before delivering them to the host employer
  6. Host selects potential candidate(s) using usual methods, and agrees terms directly with the Spintern. Hosts should inform all unsuccessful candidates within 4 weeks.
  7. Projects should run through the summer vacation, and we strongly encourage the host to attend the Induction Day with their Spintern on 18 June 2018.
  8. You should ensure that the poster and presentation that the student prepares and produces with your support, for the Showcase Event in the Autumn term 2018, is compliant with your own objectives.

What is a “Project”?

Projects can vary from organisation to organisation. It may be a piece of research or a small project that would otherwise not be done. It may be working as part of a team, or something more independent. The more time spent scoping the project at the beginning, the easier it is for the student to hit the ground running, and less support the host will need to provide throughout the project.


The scheme is open to individuals who are enthusiastic about working in the space industry. Whilst Aerospace Engineering or Physics are key topics to the ‘upstream’ sector, Electronic, Mechanical and Systems Engineering are also important; numerate and computer-savvy natural scientists and geographers are sought after in the ‘downstream’ or ‘satellite-enabled’ sectors. All applicants for summer placements must be registered students studying on a recognised study programme at the time of their application. Some projects starting at different times of the year will be open to graduates. You should also be aware that most organisations will not be in a position to support visa applications for short-term workers. If you are in any doubt as to whether you will require a visa, please refer to the UK Visas and Immigration website. We are unable to facilitate this.

How long should placements be?

At least 8 weeks, but any length that suits the host organisation is acceptable as long as it works within the student’s university learning context. NB we found during the pilot scheme that students completed their projects more rapidly than was anticipated, so it pays to have a supplementary role “in the back pocket”.

When should the project be carried out?

Over a mutually convenient period during the summer vacation – it need not be continuous – as long as it works for both of you. In special circumstances, projects may be made available at different times of the year.

What dates must the student and supervisor be present?

18 June 2018 at Harwell for the Space Induction Day, and following completion of projects, at the SPIN Showcase Event. This event will take place on a Wednesday during the Autumn 2018 term, when students will prepare a short ‘poster’ report of their project and present a 2-minute elevator pitch.

Why should the spinterns be paid?

Today’s students are taking out student loans to cover their fees and living expenses at university. The majority of them need to take on paid work during the vacations in order to minimise the amounts they need to borrow. An unpaid placement or internship will prevent them from doing this, and in some cases has led to investigation of host organisations by HMRC. Our guide is that the spintern should be paid at a rate which equates to just below the going rate in each company for a recent graduate – between £1,070 and £1,500 pcm paid as a bursary. This should also enable the spintern to travel to their place of work, and potentially live away from home, if your location is removed from their university.

How should spinterns be paid?

Our advice on levels of payment is shown above. The contract and payment terms should be agreed between host and spintern. Please spell these out at interview, particularly if you do not intend to pay them until the end of a period of work, recalling that most students will have budgeted their spending for the term time!

Is there any funding available to support companies?

Currently we are unable to provide any funding to support host organisations.

Can spinterns claim for travel expenses to the Induction and Student Showcase?

We would expect travel to the induction to be covered by hosts who will also be attending.

What is the SPIN Showcase?

The SPIN Showcase is an opportunity for the SPINterns to demonstrate the work that they have carried out during their placement. They will present a short ‘soap box’ presentation which will be followed by a poster exhibition. The event will be held on Friday 7 September, during the UK National Earth Observation Conference. All SPINterns, with the support and agreement of their supervisors, are asked to produce a poster describing their work during their placement. If the work they are carrying out is sensitive, please contact Kathie Bowden so that a contingency plan can be put in place, although they would still be expected to describe the work in broad terms. This poster should be completed and produced during the placement, and where necessary, financially supported by the host, either in the form of providing materials, printing or related costs. The Showcase will be followed by a careers event.

Intellectual Property

All parties agree to abide by the intellectual property rights, security clearances and any required documentation as set out by the host of the placement.

Health and Safety

The host will ensure that they meet all legislative and insurance requirements for hosting the student, including adequate supervision and training.

Support Visits

As soon as you’ve agreed dates, please could hosts suggest a convenient date for Kathie Bowden to visit.

Contact details

Spinterns should ensure that the SPIN office has a record of all current contact details, noting that the placement will occur outside the university term.


All host employers are asked to provide the student with an informal review at the end of their placement, with advice on how they could improve their CV, and a reference for their CV if requested.

SPIN Office

The UK Space Agency
c/o The Satellite Applications Catapult
Electron Building
Fermi Avenue
Harwell Campus
OX11 0QR


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