Work Experience

The importance of work experience

Work experience can often be the decisive factor in securing the jobs that you want; so it is important to understand the different ways you can get experience under your belt.

According to a 2017 survey of large employers (carried out by High Fliers Research), approximately a third of the employers taking part in the research warned that graduates who have had no previous work experience are unlikely to be successful during the selection process. This means that by having no experience you are immediately restricting the opportunities available to you.

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Types of work experience

Work experience has become a general term which incorporates a wide range of opportunities and experience. The best way for employers to recruit a future graduate can be to see them in the workplace and how they perform on a daily basis. The following types of work experience can therefore be a way of securing a future graduate position at an organisation.

  1. Year-long placements – This type of placement is also known as an industrial or sandwich placement. They can be a compulsory part of a university course but students on other courses may also have the option to take a year out from their studies and undertake a placement. This usually takes place between the second and third year of your course.
  2. Summer placements – Increasingly the term internship is being used to describe placements that take place over the summer holidays usually for between eight and 12 weeks. They can be well-paid and, depending on the organisation, may only be available to students who have completed at least two years of their degree course.
  3. Work shadowing – These opportunities are usually short term and unpaid as you will not be undertaking a specific role in an organisation. The main activities include observing staff and getting an insight into a particular job role and organisation. They can be extremely useful in building up contacts.
  4. Part-time work – These types of positions tend to be ongoing and you may be working for one or two days per week even during term time. They may not necessarily be linked to your future career but they are still a great way to gain skills, develop your organisational awareness and build up your CV.
  5. Internships - This term is increasingly used but is just another name for a placement and can range from two weeks to a year in duration. Find out more about paid undergraduate LJMU internships on the opposite page.
  6. Voluntary work – These opportunities are usually unpaid but are a great way to gain experience, learn new skills, meet people as well as making a positive impact and giving you a sense of well-being and achievement.

"Get as much experience as possible. Ideally in a specific area you’re interested in, but if that’s not possible, any relevant experience is good as you’d be surprised how many skills you can take from your work experience! So many people have degrees nowadays that in order to be noticed, you’ve got to have done something different. I also think that having work experience shows you have initiative and a proactive attitude, which is very appealing to employers."

Ella McNulty -
LJMU Zoology graduate

Help and support available to you:

Discuss work experience options with an Adviser

Call into a Careers Zone or phone us on 0151 231 3719 (Aldham Careers Zone)/2048 (Byrom Careers Zone) to book an appointment with our Advisers to discuss general work experience options or to talk about gaining experience in a specific area or sector.

Download our Career Mini Guide

For further information about getting work experience during your time at LJMU download our handy guide on making yourself employable whilst at university.

Careers Worshops / Webinars

The Careers, Employability & Enterprise Team runs a number of workshops/webinars and events throughout the academic year, including employer presentations and visits to the Careers Zones, where you can find out about work experience and volunteering opportunities. Check our events website  and also look out for placement fairs organised by your faculty.