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What you can gain

Completing work experience can transform your career journey.

Getting first-hand insight into a sector, industry or even a specific organisation is invaluable as a way of confirming your plans or otherwise setting you off in a different direction.

Spending time exploring your options while you’re still studying is ideal, because the experience you gain can give you more focus when you enter the graduate job market. And if your CV includes your work experience and the skills you gained from it, it can help you stand out to graduate recruiters.

'More than a third of recruiters who took part in the research repeated their warnings from previous years – that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection processes for the top employers’

High Fliers Research, The Graduate Market in 2018

Work experience also helps you to:

  • improve your self-awareness
  • build your confidence by working with others
  • evidence your ability to take on a challenge and succeed
  • bridge the gap between University and the world of work
  • gain valuable advice from professionals working in the field and hear their stories
  • obtain references for any graduate applications that you make in the future.
  • help you to understand how organisations work from an internal perspective.

It also allows you to establish a clearer picture of what kind of working environment may suit you when you graduate.

Skills employers want

Work experience can help you to develop a range of marketable skills that employers seek in their graduate recruits.

A way into work

If you're successful in a placement with a large graduate employer, it may be possible to fast track your graduate training scheme application in the future (sometimes straight to interview stage) or you may even be able to apply directly.

In the same way, making a good impression during a placement with a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) could put you in a good position when they look to grow their business and recruit new staff. Seek advice from your employer during your placement.

If you're not yet clear about your future plans, then consider researching opportunities that will offer good scope to develop some of the generic transferable skills that employers seek. Reflecting on your experiences so that you understand the skills you have gained from them and learning how to communicate them to potential employers is essential.

A fair rate of pay

If you are offered an internship, then you should expect to be paid for your time. In the vast majority of cases, interns are entitled to be paid at least National Minimum Wage and so if you are told your internship will be unpaid, you should ask the employer the reason why.

Some internships/placements are exempt from this legislation if they form a compulsory part of your course or if the organisation is a charity, voluntary organisation, associated fundraising body or a statutory body.

The Futures Connect Team works with a range of organisations to offer Insights, which are shorter, more flexible unpaid work experience opportunities. We advertise some short-term unpaid work experience and also enable charities to post unpaid volunteering opportunities which can be found on your Careers Account. You can contact the Futures Connect Team on

We do this to provide a broad range of options across job sectors and provide access to work experience if students have been unable to secure a paid placement. However, we are committed to supporting students to find paid work experience wherever possible.

Find out more

Careers and Employability