Looking for summer work experience – the bigger picture

iStock_000022496115Small Casting net wideThe availability of summer internship schemes with corporate companies may be soon coming to a close, but there are still summer opportunities for work experience and internships available and other opportunities to develop your skills and experience to consider.


Finding work experience with smaller/medium size organisations

Smaller and medium sized companies will be advertising their positions. How can you find out about these companies and make contact about their opportunities?

  • Research employers in the industry that interests you so that you can approach them. How do you do this? Who are the key companies and contacts? Who is based in your local or regional geographical area?
  • Look through relevant industry journals to find possible recruitment agencies and professional organisations including journals in the Careers Library in The Atrium for possible contacts and companies
  • Check through if there are any useful links to sources in the Which Career? Section
  • Check out relevant job profiles on the Prospects website as there are usually some helpful links to key professional bodies for the industry area
  • Are you aware of some key professional organisations from your studies on your course?
  • Do you know anyone who is working in the industry that interests you? There may also be people you know that know of people in that industry, if so, could any be helpful with contacts or work experience?
  • Look through our Getting Connected guide for ideas on making contacts with employers and also join LinkedIn and search on relevant industry and interest groups
  • Create a speculative cover letter to send with a CV and tailor both for the work experience you would like to gain with the company.
  • Use our Covering letter guide, which has some advice and tips on making speculative applications.
  • Get advice on checking your cover letter, CV and applications through Applications Advice appointments. Information on booking appointments and what to bring on the Careers Service website.


What other opportunities are there to develop your skills and experience while at university?

Here are some ideas……

  • Organise some work shadowing for a day or some short term voluntary opportunities in the area that interests you. This can help you develop your skills and experience, give you useful examples for your CV and help confirm that this is the right role or industry for you.
  • If you doing any unpaid experience check out if you can apply for our Work Experience bursaries towards your travel or accommodation costs.
  • Join some student societies that interest you and take on a role with some responsibility, leadership or organise an event or project for the society.
  • Apply to the Peer mentoring scheme and develop your skills helping other students in your school


It is also important to understand what skills you have, as well as to check the skills needed for the role you want and identify where you need to develop skills and experience. Then you can focus on finding work experience that fill these skill gaps. You can talk to the Careers Service to get more help and support with this.

  • Check out our Employability Skills section on our website to explore skills and how to develop them further.
  • Could you get any work experience in a related role in the same industry sector or in a related industry, which still builds up your skills, experience and your CV?  For example, if you are interested in investment banking, then also try other finance/ business experience, if you are interested in the media, then also try journalism, publishing, PR and marketing etc.
  • All work experience gives you opportunities to gain skills and experience in industry, develop core skills which are transferable to most roles and which employers look for.
  • Skills such as your communication, interpersonal skills, organisation, leadership, meeting customer needs, prioritising your workload and the list goes on, see our website for a list of examples of core transferable skills.
  • Part Time jobs whether in the summer or during term time develop your skills. They may not always be at graduate level, or in your area of interest, however they do give you ways to develop examples of your core skills like communication, teamwork, meeting customer needs etc.

Therefore, if you don’t manage to find work experience in your ideal role or area of interest, which of course you still can prioritise, then all is not lost and there are still opportunities to apply to in order to gain work experience and develop your core skills elsewhere even in something you would not normally think of. But where you can develop your skills!

For more ideas on developing your skills and experience see our Get Experience section of our website.


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