Types of opportunity

There are plenty of ways to get involved and gain valuable work experience during your studies or after you have graduated.

Insights and work shadowing

These give you a great chance to explore sectors or industries which you are considering as part of your career planning.

You rarely need previous relevant experience, just a genuine interest and willingness to learn. Generally lasting a couple of weeks at most, they can often be completed part-time to fit around your other commitments.

Although you won’t always be paid for this sort of short work experience, organisations will often pay travel expenses and a contribution to the cost of your lunch.

Internships and vacation placements

Many larger graduate employers run formal placement schemes and the application process can prove quite competitive. Increasingly, small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are seeing the value of taking on interns and so are also worth looking into.

As an intern, you may complete a project on behalf of an organisation or be expected to achieve agreed objectives. In the vast majority of cases, you should expect to be paid for your time.

If you’re a current undergraduate student get in touch with The Futures Connect Team, by emailing workexperience@cardiff.ac.uk, to find out more about the opportunity to undertake Insights, Internships and Classroom Experience during your time here.

Sandwich placements

These are credit-bearing placement or professional training years (or year in industry placements) which usually take place in your penultimate year of study. They give you the opportunity to gain substantial experience in a field relevant to your degree specialism.

With these you may benefit from extensive support from within your department in finding a placement or identifying a project.

Carrying out a year-long placement may result in your degree taking four years to complete rather than three, depending on the degree programme.

It's worth noting that you'll need to budget for any tuition fees payable during your placement year. And you may need to arrange accommodation and transport, which can also add to your costs.

Part-time employment and casual work

In addition to financing yourself during your studies or while you search for a full-time role, you'll be developing important skills such as time management and financial management, customer service, and teamwork. It can also help clarify the kind of job you do – or don't – want to look for later on.

It's worth noting that many universities recommend that you don't work more than 15 hours per week in term time, as working long hours can affect your studies and, in turn, your future employability,

Volunteering

This includes volunteering with University society roles – eg treasurer or event coordinator or through Cardiff Volunteering or voluntary sector organisations. There is often the opportunity to be given more responsibility or projects that you can manage whilst volunteering for third sector organisations which may benefit your studies.

Volunteering is easier to arrange and often more flexible than a paid job, but it's a real commitment and people will be relying on your support.

Opportunities abroad

Students who’ve had an international experience are 10% more likely to be in a graduate job once they leave university and go on to earn on average 7% more than non-mobile students (UUKI Gone International: Expanding Opportunities report). Studying, working or volunteering abroad is a great way to develop key skills that employers are looking for, enhance your CV and make you stand out from the crowd. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to travel and explore new parts of the world!

There are many ways of gaining an international experience. If you’re a current undergraduate student, find out more about Global Opportunities which offer the opportunity to study, work or volunteer abroad during your time at Cardiff University. There are bursaries available to make these opportunities more accessible as well as additional funding for students who are in receipt of the Cardiff Bursary.

Find out more

Careers and Employability