Work experience and placements

These days it is rarely enough just to have a good degree; employers want to see evidence of skills and experience. One of the best, although not the only, way to develop these is through work experience. Work experience means many things from a part-time job in the holidays, short placements and tasters, work shadowing and work-based learning, and internships to a fully-fledged year-long placement.

What they all have in common is the opportunity they provide to learn and practise new skills and to develop an awareness of the working environment. In the survey that we carried out with employers, the highest rated factor cited by employers as a selection criterion was relevant work experience closely followed by placements. Work experience can be used to great effect when you are applying for jobs or at an interview to convince an employer of your:

  • ability to get a job or placement and to function effectively in the work environment;
  • motivation to find out more about, and get experience of, a particular sector, industry or job role;
  • knowledge and understanding of their industry or sector;
  • transferable skills, such as teamwork, communication, organisation and time management, and your ability to use these in a work context.

The graduates on this website all have something to say about work experience – or their lack of it – and their experiences will help you to reflect on your own situation and to plan the steps you might take next.

Further help & information

Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS):

Journey to Work DVD (ask your careers service how you can view this)

Graduate Prospects:

Work experience and internships


Internships and work experience