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Work Experience Ideas

We’ve all had the worry, “but how do I get experience for a job if I need experience to get a job?” But have no fear! Doing work experience whilst still at university can help avoid this issue, meaning you’ll have plenty of experience by the time it comes to applying for a career.

But what options for postgraduate work experience are there? Here we’ll look at a variety of work experience ideas and how to get them.

Postgraduate work experience

When most people think of postgraduate work experience, they think of internships. Often unpaid, internships are short contracts ran by companies for those looking at a career in the area. These are most common in the fields of finance, marketing or business, but you can find them at all sorts of companies, like charities or even speech therapy too.


Postgraduate internships have a few pros and cons, which we’ll take a brief look at:

PRO: Work experience in a relevant field, often with a world leader in the field. If you’re really good, this can often turn into a potential job offer with the company.

CON : Internships are often unpaid, so you need to know how you’ll be funding your living fees. Of course, not all internships are like this, but check out our next con as for why you should still be planning ahead.

PRO: Internships often have a set structure, which will allow you to see a lot of the company in a way a job might not. They’re designed to introduce you to the area you’re working in, so they’re particularly useful if you’re still deciding that what job to choose.

CON: Internships are well known for being oversubscribed, so to have a shot at them you really need to shine. Polish up your CV, write a fantastic cover, and if you can, network. Apply for as many as you can, and prepare for your interviews to the best of your ability.

Speculative applications

Work Experience Ideas Despite internships being a common way of getting work experience, they’re not the only option. You can also apply to companies that don’t have internship programs, and ask if they can take you on temporarily. If it’s a small enough business, go in to see them, or if it’s a bit bigger, ring up or email. You can always send in speculative applications too!

PRO: Companies that don’t run internships will not be oversubscribed, so if they take to you, the odds are in your favour. They may also pay, as they aren’t advertising roles as ‘unpaid’.

CON: There will be less official structure than an internship, so you will probably see less of the company and have less opportunity to see different departments.

Volunteer work

Another possible route to work experience is volunteering. Whilst this is more relevant to some sectors than others (such as charity work), it’s a good way to show that you’re responsible. And remembering volunteering doesn’t have to mean standing on a street with a donation bucket! There are lots of options – you can volunteer as marketing assistant for charity events, help with the collections at a local museum, or work on conservation projects. Try and find something that suits your goals.

PRO: Volunteering can be done in your own time, and you can fit it around your university schedule.

CON: Not all companies will consider volunteering as work experience unless you can make a really good case for why it’s relevant, so make sure you pick something you can justify.

University work

Finally, look at what your university (or even other ones) offer. If you’re a science student, you may well be able to get experience in one of their research labs, and the alumni offices will be looking out for marketing types. There’s a huge variety of roles available within universities, so make sure you ask around.

PRO: Universities are well respected, so working for one will definitely add to your reputation.

CON: Some roles may be unpaid, and it will vary from university to university which roles are available.

Work experience ideas round up

Hopefully this has given you a head start on looking at some work experience ideas. Don’t forget though, that this list isn’t exhaustive, so ask your careers service. if there’s anything they know about. There might be something specific to your university or city that you can get involved with, or perhaps one or your tutors might know someone.

For more careers advice, please see here.


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