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Getting experience as a stepping stone to work

Gaining experience of the industry that you are interested is important (and sometimes essential) in the current highly competitive job market. 

There are increasingly opportunities for those leaving UCL to gain access to graduate internships, work experience and shadowing offered by a very diverse range employers on a short, long or part-time basis.  In many cases, employers see work experience as an opportunity to see the capabilities of potential future employees first-hand and job opportunities can often be sourced through this channel.

Opportunities are advertised as and when vacancies arise and can often be less structured than traditional graduate scheme internships. They also vary hugely both in type of work you will undertake and whether you will be paid for your time.

Two good sources of graduate internships are:

UCL Job Online - access to a huge number of internship, work experience and temporary opportunities (in some cases advertised solely to UCL students and graduates through this site).  Search for internships by keyword, location, job type and hours.

Graduate talent pool - a partnership between government and employers designed to help UK graduates looking for work placements. The internships are based primarily in England, and you can search for opportunities by career sector and region. In addition to listing internship opportunities there are tips and advice on CVs, applications and interviews.

In addition, our online guides to finding advertised internships and work experience have further listings of both generalist internship sites as well as some that are sector specific.

Whilst there are a growing number of online vacancy sources, the majority of opportunities are never publicised and you will need to be proactive in creating these opportunities for yourself in the same way you might for jobs.  See our job hunting section.

Work experience/ shadowing

Sometimes organisations are not able to offer internships but will allow you to gain some short-term experience or to ‘work shadow’ someone. This involves spending time with a professional, watching what their role entails. It may be for one or two days but if you make yourself indispensable for that brief time, they may invite you to stay longer. In order to identify these types of possibilities, you will need to pinpoint the career area(s) you would like to research and then look for suitable people to shadow.  Try to find contacts via family and friends or other networks and if that is not successful, make speculative applications to individuals working in organisations that attract you. The key to a successful shadowing placement is being proactive.

Page last modified on 09 nov 13 12:00 by David Carter

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