Getting Career Related Experience

For many graduate jobs, having relevant experience is not critical at your entry level, as the employer may be looking for ‘raw talent’ and the opportunity to develop you into the role. However with many applicants for a lot of jobs, employers often use work experience to differentiate between them.  So how can you get it?
  • Just apply!
    The Careers Service advertises internships, placements and work experience opportunities in many sectors, where organisations actively want to recruit current students. But if you can’t find what you are after there…
  • Are there relevant part time jobs?
    It’s usually really hard to find relevant part time work in many sectors, because it’s not the norm for the industry. However, in some areas it is possible, e.g. IT, retail, and marketing. Applying for these opportunities gives you the chance to build up relevant experience while you are still studying, even if it’s not at the same level as you would enter as a graduate.
  • Work Shadowing
    Try getting some work shadowing in the type of job which interests you. This is a more informal type of work experience and often requires you to make contacts and network. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone working in that type of job who you could ask for advice, and see our networking guide for tips. Sometimes this can lead to a few days of work experience, or even some short term paid work if you impress.
  • Pick relevant modules and dissertation
    If your programme of study is relevant to the job, tailor it further with your module choices and pick your dissertation topic carefully. Sometimes you can meet good contacts, e.g. a guest lecturer from the field. A relevant organisation linked dissertation can also give you both contacts and experience.
  • Volunteer
    Sometimes voluntary organisations need work doing which can help you develop relevant experience. E.g. if you are interested in event management, many charities organise fundraising events, so by getting involved you get great experience. Those interested in teaching or caring type roles may also find voluntary work a great source of experience. Our Manchester Student Volunteers service can help you find these opportunities.
  • Offer to deliver a project for an organisation
    This is a great option if you are studying a degree relevant to your chosen career, though it an option to consider carefully as it would usually be done on an unpaid basis and you would need to limit your hours. Think about what an organisation might find valuable which also helps develop your experience. Then draw up a list of organisations and write to them speculatively with your CV offering free help in this area. E.g. if you are studying Human Resources, offering to review the induction programme for a business or charity.
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