Work experience & internships
Why bother with work experience?
- It looks great on your CV and demonstrates to employers that your life experience is not limited merely to the field of academia.
- It helps you develop transferable skills.
- It can help you decide on your career pathway.
- It might make your chosen career pathway easier to access, especially if your work experience is directly linked to it.
- It may be a prerequisite to entry into some sectors, such as media or investment banking.
- You can earn money - although not all work experience positions are paid.
What kind of work experience is available?
These are work placement schemes offered by large organisations and companies. They tend to be aimed at students on their penultimate year. The application process starts early, usually between October and February, and the actual internships tend to take place during the summer months.
Other work experience placements
These are offered by a range of organisations. They are advertised as and when vacancies arise; some are not advertised at all. Therefore, it is worthwhile sending speculative letters with your CV to organisations you are interested in.
This involves spending time with a professional and watching what their role entails. This usually takes place short-term (1-2 days), but if you are proactive and make yourself indispensable, you may be invited to stay longer. You can identify suitable people to shadow by networking or sending speculative letters with your CV to organisations you are interested in.
Temping can be a good source of income if you want to work part-time or during your vacation. Recruitment agencies may offer flexibility with regard to timing and location, and you might be able to work in a sector that interests you. You can find a list of agencies in the Yellow Pages or come to the Careers Service to browse the Recruitment Consultancies booklet. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation promotes good practice and, therefore, all agencies that are registered members must comply with its standards. You can check whether a recruitment agency is a member on their website.
Going abroad can broaden your horizons and develop your transferable skills even if you prefer not to assist at an American summer camp or pick fruit in Australia for the rest of your life. You can find out more about working internationally on International JobOnline.
Although you might not be able to afford to volunteer long-term, it will often offer you a greater variety and responsibility than a work experience in a salaried position.
- Check out the SOAS Volunteering Unit and explore opportunities directed at SOAS students.
- Do it - a national database for volunteering opportunities.
Where to find vacancies?
- We have a dedicated page on the Moodle for internships available only to SOAS students.
- JobOnline database
- The Careers Group's STEP Internship Programme
- SOAS Careers Service notice boards (near the JCR, in the corridor near the double lifts on the ground floor and near all three Faculty offices - Arts & Humanities, Languages & Cultures and Law & Social Science)
- A Students' Guide to the Top Placement & Internship Employers - available in hard copy in the Careers Service
- Local JobCentres
- The National Council for Work Experience
- Shell Step - a UK-wide programme offering undergraduates project-based work within small to medium-sized businesses.
- Visit Careers Tagged to get more ideas.
For a more resources related to internships and work experience, visit The Careers Group website.