Getting work experience: It’s never too soon – first-year is the new final-year!
“Gone for good are the days when career decisions could be left until the final year. Today, when it comes to making career decisions, first-year is the new final-year.”
Dr Paul Redmond, Director of Student Experience and Enhancement at the University of Liverpool
Getting experience gives you a feel for what you want out of your future career and lifestyle, and enables you to develop the commercial awareness that all employers want.
Don’t just look at the larger ‘traditional’ graduate recruiters. Working in SMEs (Small and Medium Size Enterprises) will give you the chance to get involved in a wide range of activities, often with a higher level of responsibility than in larger organisations. It’s worth considering all sectors too, since many employability skills are transferrable across different types of organisations.
Structured internship programmes: These are usually linked to employers’ main graduate recruitment processes, and it’s essential to apply for these if you want to work for the same employer after you graduate. Such internships are mainly for second year students, but keep your eyes open for ones that may be open to you in your first year too. Competition is fierce, and closing dates tend to be early in the academic year, so start looking from the beginning of the Autumn Term.
Do you need further professional training? Keep in mind that, if you are aiming for a career where further professional training is required, it’s important to get relevant experience under your belt early so that you’re in a position to include it in applications for professional postgraduate courses and training programmes.
Deadlines: Even if you’ve missed early deadlines, many employers (particularly SMEs) offer opportunities all year round; so watch out for these and also speculatively target companies that interest you .
Networking: This is really important because jobs and placements in many popular areas are not advertised. Social media are increasingly part of the landscape of our lives, so make the most of them in your search for the right niche. Remember that the Careers and Employability Service is part of your network too, so come and talk to us if you need help, whatever stage you’re at with planning your future. Click here for more ideas on networking.
Week of Work (WoW) and Swansea Paid Internship Network (SPIN): The Careers and Employability Service manages a programme of both short unpaid placements and longer paid internships. Click here to find out more and register for WoW and SPIN.
Swansea Employability Award (SEA): All the work that you put into developing your employability will be recognised in your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).
On campus – get involved in University life
- Students’ Union jobs www.swansea-union.co.uk/jobs/ - apply really early in the autumn term
- Students’ Union societies and sports activities www.swansea-union.co.uk/societies/
- Voluntary work with Discovery Student Volunteering www.swan.ac.uk/discovery/
- Volunteer with the Egypt Centre: www.egypt.swansea.ac.uk/
Visit the Graduate Prospects web pages on work experience at university for more ideas.
(NOTE to translators: please do not translate “Graduate Prospects ”into Welsh as this is the name of an organisation.)
Temporary and part-time work while you study
EmployAbility is a not-for-profit organisation specialising in promoting opportunities for disabled and dyslexic students and graduates. They offer free support, advice and guidance throughout the whole recruitment process and beyond.
Explore more information about Equality and Diversity on the TARGETjobs website.
Key sites for more information
- Essential Careers Information sites for HE students:-
- Our WoW and Spin placements and internships programmes
- Our vacancies database includes work experience opportunities as well as jobs for after graduation
Visit our page on opportunities overseas.
Unpaid placements and internships
The TARGETjobs website includes useful suggestions to weigh up the pros and cons of unpaid internships.
In legal terms, you should receive at least the minimum wage if you are doing a job of work that makes a real contribution to the organisation that employs you and if you are expected to work a set number of hours with specific responsibilities. However, traditionally there are still many unpaid placements/internships in certain areas such as charities, the media, creative industries and politics. You can find relevant information on the GOV.UK website: