Find work experience and internships

What is work experience?

The term ‘work experience’ covers a range of activities from full work as a member of staff, to work shadowing and observing. All can be very beneficial in terms of career development and networking.

What do you want to gain from your work experience?

Reasons for looking for work experience vary. You may want to explore whether a particular career area or employment sector is for you, or wish to gain experience, contacts and knowledge in your chosen field.

Before you start looking for work experience take some time to think about:

  • occupations and industries you are interested in and the work experience you will need to develop a career in that area
  • your existing skills and experiences and how you would like to develop further
  • when you want to do experience and how much time you can commit

What work experience opportunities are there at University?

  • Summer internships take place during the summer vacation in a professional role within industry. Formal internship programmes are targeted predominantly at penultimate year students and are also used to recruit to graduate training programmes. However, most internships are open to all students. 
  • Work experience is used by many students to gain experience in most sectors, and competitive fields such as journalism, politics, the arts, heritage, charities and many others. You normally contact the organisations of your choice direct, but you can choose how much time you want to spend there. Also view available opportunities.
  • Part time work during the term offers a great way to earn extra money while developing valuable transferable skills such as communication, team building and organisational skills.
  • Voluntary work offers a great opportunity to get experience in a diverse range of settings and occupations and can vary greatly in terms of the time you commit.
  • Work Shadowing involves spending a few days to a few weeks observing someone in their role at work and learning more about an occupation.
  • Yearlong placements are normally taken between the second and final year of study as part of your degree or a year’s absence. Year placements are a great opportunity to get an in-depth understanding of a role and are used by many employers to recruit to graduate training programmes.

For more information on the different types and benefits of work experience, see www.intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/careers.

How to find work experience

There are two main ways to gain work experience:

The route you adopt will depend on the type of work experience you are looking for. Some industries such as engineering, IT, finance and business management are more likely to advertise paid vacancies.

Positions in other fields including media, marketing, journalism, culture, sports and psychology are less likely to actively advertise. If you are looking for work experience in these areas you will need to spend more time finding out about organisations in the field and making speculative approaches to them.

More formal types of work experience like year placements and summer internships are also more likely to be advertised than short term and part time positions in professional settings.

How can the University help?

There are a number of services at the University which can help you find work experience.

Careers Network

  • Advertises year placements, summer internships, part time work in career settings, volunteering and other work experience vacancies for undergraduates and postgraduates online. Just select "Placement", "Summer Internship", "Work experience", or "Volunteering", when you search for vacancies. View vacancies
  • Produces handouts on how to find work in different sectors including theatre, arts, environment and geography, engineering, health and sports.
  • Offers support with CVs, application forms and interview skills, as well as advice sessions with Careers Advisers, and drop-in sessions with a College Internship Officer.
  • Provides work experience bursaries for students seeking work experience in low paid or unpaid sectors.
  • Organises careers fairs providing the opportunity to meet with employers offering work experience.

Job Zone at the Guild

Student Development at the Guild

  • Supports students to volunteer with the Guild's student-led volunteer groups and external organisations and charities. Go to www.guildofstudents.com/volunteering for more information.

General work-experience resources