- Graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are 'unlikely to
be successful' during the selection process and have 'little or no chance' of
receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes. (High
- 31% of this year’s entry-level positions are expected to be filled by
graduates who have already worked for their organisations – either through paid
internships, industrial placements or vacation work. (High
Your guide to work placements
So what is a work placement?
As part of your degree, you work in an organisation for an agreed amount of
time to gain experience and develop professional skills to make you stand out
from the crowd when you're applying for jobs.
A work placement also allows you to learn more about a particular sector,
company or job role, and apply your academic knowledge in a practical working
environment, giving you ideas of what you want to do as a future career. During
the placement your experience and study combine into an integrated package where
your practical work and academic study enhance each other. You can show
employers that you can use your subject understanding to add commercial value,
and demonstrate you can deliver on challenging projects that meet client
It is really important to get professional work experience before you
graduate, more and more organisations are now offering work experience
opportunities. Research by
High Fliers (2015) found that over four-fifths of the UK’s leading graduate
employers are offering paid work experience programmes for students and recent
graduates during the 2014-15 academic year – an unprecedented 13,049 paid work
placements are available.
How can a work placement benefit me?
- Make your application stand out when applying for jobs
- Apply your academic knowledge directly to the work place
- Enhance your professional and interpersonal skills
- Learn more about a particular sector, company or job role
- Prepare you for your future career
What type of work placement can I do?
Many large companies and organisations offer nationally advertised work
placements with excellent development opportunities.
Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) are increasingly taking on placement
students, offering the chance to undertake a wide variety of opportunities,
- Placement year (equivalent of a year’s academic study, between 30-52
weeks carried out between the penultimate and final year of your
- Termly placements (equivalent to an academic term of 12-15 weeks which
could be part-time or combined with academic studies)
- Vacation placements/internships (short term placement taken during
- Projects (negotiated pieces of work, either group based or individual,
usually carried out in third year of undergraduate study)
How do I get a work placement?
You'll need to find your own placement by applying for vacancies. When you're
looking for a work placement it's useful to research creatively. Identify your
key skills and don't restrict yourself to the obvious sectors, as many other
industries will offer work placements that match your skills.
Your Faculty Placements Manager, Department and the Employability and Careers
Centre will support you and help you with every step of the process. They can
give you advice on things such as CVs, applications and interview techniques.
Finding a work placement
A number of websites advertise national work placements of varying length:
- UROP -
placements for undergraduates to assist academic researchers
We'll support you on your placement
Our Employability and Careers Centre and your department, school or centre
work with you on identifying and securing placements.
You will be allocated an Academic Supervisor who will keep in contact with
you throughout your placement and will give you advice on your academic
Your Placement Supervisor will be a member of the organisation you are
working for and will help you manage your day-to-day work and support your
learning and development.
Placements Manager can provide more information about placements for the
particular course(s) you are interested in, and will also be available to help
and offer advice to you and your Placement Provider throughout your placement.
All provide support whilst on your placement, ensuring that you get the most
out of your experience.
Government students reinvigorate Essex
for Challenge Project placement. from
University of Essex on Vimeo.
Work Placements - My Journey with Cancer Research UK from University of Essex on Vimeo.
I'm an employer
Can you offer our students a work placement?
Find out more.