Make sure you make good applications & spend time on them- treat them like you would a job application
Finding work experience
Finding work experience, placements and
Session will cover:
• What do you mean by work experience
• Why should you do it?
• How to set up your own work experience & finding contacts
• Formal work experience schemes & internships
• How Careers & Employability can help
What do you mean by work
Work experience is essentially any form of experience that you
undertake to increase your understanding of work and could be:
- Sandwich/ industrial placements
- Work-based project
- Work placements
- Internship/ Summer Internships
- Voluntary work
- Work shadowing/ work tasters
- Vacation schemes/ vacation placements
• Sandwich placements- assessed paid experience often 1 year, as part of
• Work based project- specific piece of assessed work for a course based on
some experience with an employer
• Work placement- short period of work experience, paid or unpaid, and is
part of course of study and an agreed period of time eg. social work/
• Internship- placement within an organisation sometimes over the summer
period (increasingly being used by large companies )
• Vacation schemes/ vacation placements- usually take place over
summer or Easter vacations (and sometimes Christmas) and are similar to
internships (eg. law firms)
• Voluntary work- any type of work undertaken for no payment in your spare
time (usually longer term)
• Work Shadowing/ work tasters- observing a member of staff working in an
organisation & so gains an understanding of what the job entails
Why should I do it?
• Confirming your career choices (or confirming that you have made the
• Establishing a network of contacts to be used in the future, maybe for
further work-experience opportunities or to help with finding a job after
• Having some relevant work experience on your CV – adds prestige
• Gaining an up to date work reference
• Seeing work from the inside and gaining a realistic view of what is
• Developing more flexible communication skills and self-confidence.
• A chance to apply some of the knowledge or skills you have gained so
far to the real working world.
• Some organisations increasingly view placements as part of their
recruitment processes- impress and you could land a job!
- Internships work differently in different sectors and in different
- Large corporations in areas of business, finance, retail,
pharmaceuticals, law, engineering & IT will often have structured
- Deadlines often Jan/ March time
- Mostly aimed at penultimate year students but there are some for 1st
years (HSBC 1st
year summer internship, RBS Easter Insight, Ernst &
- Other sectors such as International Development, media, public
services, environment may not offer structured schemes and you may
need to try volunteering or speculative approaches
How to find opportunities
If you have a career area in mind, investigate if there are advertised opportunities
in that area. Many companies offer formal schemes.
General websites include:
- www.topinternships.com – dedicated site
- www.inspiringinterns.com/ - agency based in London
- www.targetjobs.co.uk – searchable database of summer internships
- www.ratemyplacement.co.uk- 1-4 month internship
Our jobs database:
www.sussex.ac.uk/careers/jobs/search (search under vacation)
If you know the specific area that you are interested in, try some of the sector
specific links from our website. Look in:
Other examples of resources out
www.gradcracker.com/ - Engineering website
www.step.org.uk/step_classic.aspx - Paid project based summer
work experience in science & engineering
www.w4mp.org/ - internships in politics
www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/internships.htm - Internships at the
www.lawcareers.net- legal vacation schemes
www.bbc.co.uk/jobs - continuous rolling programme of work
http://uk.oneworld.net/section/partners- excellent resource for
searching 1500 global organisations (development)
Arranging your own Work Experience
Before you start:
- Set your aims and objectives and be clear about what you want
to achieve from the placement
- Research the occupation and organisation before you begin
- Think about what you could offer them (skills, specific pieces of
- Check out the National Council of Work Experience guidelines
- Look at the Prospects Quality Work Experience definitions:
www.prospects.ac.uk/workexperience (about work experience)
Creative Approaches- finding
• Friends, family, friends of friends .... Don’t be afraid to ask around. If you have
any contacts, use them!
• Academics, your personal tutor, lecturers etc
• Contacts from past work experience, vacation work etc.
• Vacancies advertised in newspapers at Careers & Employability. If you have
seen a company that interests you use the contact details from the vacancy
• You can search for employers by name and type on our employer database:
• Names in journals, magazines, reports, the press.
• The phone book and Yellow Pages (www.yell.com )
• Specialist directories and lists of companies
• Linked in – growing in importance
Making Contact- How?
• Allows you to have control over the information you give the employer.
• Gives the employer time to think about whether they can offer you experience.
• You can send them your CV with a cover letter outlining why you are
interested in gaining experience in their organisation.
• Easy for employers to ignore an email so it is always a good idea to follow it up
with a telephone call.
• An initial phone call has immediacy but can put you (and the employer) on the
• If you do ring it’s important to think about what you want to say first.
• Stay calm and collected to ensure you articulate your message with clarity.
Tips for Creative Approaches
• Know exactly what you're asking for
• The reasons why you want it- be clear
• Why you've contacted this particular person
• Show enthusiasm and some understanding of the career area
you are exploring and also the organisation
• Have a good, relevant CV ready to send
• Use Sussex Plus!
If you need further help, come and see us for a short interview
or drop-in session between 10-4 weekdays- we can give
feedback on CV/ Covering letter!
A selection of resources
Research the career area first:
www.prospects.ac.uk - look at explore types of jobs/career sectors
www.prospects.ac.uk/workexperience - fantastic site
www.work-experience.org – National Council for Work Experience
http://graduatetalentpool.direct.gov.uk/ - Graduate Talent Pool
www.sussexstudent.com/volunteering - Project V
www.sussex.ac.uk/careers/gettingexperience/volunteering/findingopportunities - lots
of useful links to UK and overseas volunteering opportunities
What is Sussex Plus?
• You have the opportunity to complete an 1-page initial webfolio, and a
3-page full webfolio. Write briefly about the skills you have developed
through your studies, work, and personal life
• This is great practice for applying for jobs
• You will get a Sussex Plus certificate for your full webfolio
• Send your webfolio to employers & stand out from the crowd!
• For examples, see www.sussex.ac.uk/sussexplus
How do I get to Sussex Plus?
•Go to www.sussex.ac.uk/sussexplus
•Register using your ITS name and password
•Log in. You will see ‘An asset has been shared with you.’
•Click on this. The 2nd item is ‘your initial webfolio.’
•Send us a copy to us in Careers for feedback
•For help & advice: email@example.com
Careers and Employability Support
• Careers and Employability Centre information centre
• Short interviews with a careers adviser
• Review your CV/ application form/ letters
• Events - GradFair/ LawFair/ employer presentations
• Web based information and resources – look in research section
of our website for further information about making contacts
• Use Sussex Plus!