Work experience and internships
How can I get work experience?
Work experience is an opportunity for you to find out what it’s like being at work and for you to understand the skills that are needed in the workplace. It can also be an opportunity for you to find out more about a career that interests you.
For some courses or jobs you will need to show that you have done some relevant work experience.
1. Work experience in Year 10 or 11
- During Year 10 or 11 you will get the chance to do some work experience.
- This usually means you spending a week or up to 2 weeks with an employer at their place of work.
- Sometimes you may do activites in school instead that are designed to help you find out about the world of work.
2. Making the most of work experience
- Plan ahead and think carefully about where you would like to go on your work experience.
- You can use the Year 10 and 11 section of this website to help prepare for work experience.
- You should keep a diary or record of what you did on work experience - this may be useful later when you are applying for courses or jobs.
- Even if you don’t get your chosen placement you will still learn a lot about the sort of skills that employers look for.
3. Work experience in sixth form or at college
- In sixth form or at college you may get the opportunity to do more work experience.
- This will be particularly important if you are thinking of applying for university courses in subject areas like medicine, veterinary work, social work or teaching.
- If you need help to find a placement you should speak to your school, college or Careers Adviser.
4. Work experience as part of a course
Formal work experience as part of a course comes under a number of different names, including:
- Sandwich and industrial placements - a fixed-term period (can be a full year) of assessed, paid work that forms part of your course (often a compulsory part of vocational courses and now forms part of most degree and HND courses).
- Work-based project - a specific piece of assessed work for your course, undertaken at an employer's premises.
- Work placement - a period of work experience, which can be paid or unpaid, and is part of a course of study. This can be arranged through your college or university with an employer or by you and is for an agreed period of time.
5. Work experience for graduates
If you reach graduation without having any form of work experience, some universities offer work experience programmes to support graduates to gain skills and experience to prepare them for the world of work. It’s worth contacting the Careers Service in your University to ask for more information about work experience placements.
6. Other activities to help young people find out about the world of work
Work experience isn’t the only opportunity for young people to find out about working in different industries or businesses. Careers Wales, with the support of employers, helps schools and colleges to organise activities like:
- Visits to local companies
- Talks by employers
- Talks by people who have set up their own business
- Activity days where students take part in a business related project
- Careers fairs or conventions where students get the chance to talk to employers about work and training.
What is an internship?
Internships are usually made available to graduates or other higher education students. Some students do internships as part of their degree course. Ad an intern you would spend an agreed period of time on site with an employer. This could be anything from one week to one year. Usually specific jobs and projects will be set aside for you to complete. It could also involve undertaking a project linked to the interns own area of interest. The placement can last from one week to one year and could be part time or full time and can be paid or unpaid.
What are the benefits of doing an internship?
Internships are, of course, a very good way to get work experience. However the best internships will give you a chance to apply what you have learned in university or college to a work setting. You can also use an internship to try your hand at a career linked your course of study.
How can I find an internship?
- If you are in college or university speak to your Careers Service – they may have contacts that might help you.
- There are lots of sites advertising internships in the internet. Try Graduate Talent Pool (if you graduated between 2008 and 2011 with a degree or foundation degree)
Graduate Talent Pool
- Some web sites allows you to sign up for free – and will notify you as placements become available.
- Make sure that the web site is genuine and that there are no hidden costs. Do not part with any money to organisations ‘up front’.
- You could write directly to companies you are interested in to ask if can offer you a placement.
- If you apply for a placement or internship, it’s a good rule of thumb to approach the whole application process as if you were applying for a paid job.