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How to get an internship or work placement position

Tips for students on finding and applying for a work placement or internship position.

Where to look

Think local and see what is available in your area. Your own institution and careers service are the places to go to first; they are likely to have contacts with local employers and enterprise zones. They will probably also have a website or notice board with details of local job vacancies.

Networking can also help, especially if you are looking for work in the media or the arts. This is the process of exploiting contacts and other sources to find information, possibly a work placement or internship and and maybe even a job when you graduate. Ask yourself if you know anyone who might be useful to chat to about his or her job, or if you know anyone with a useful contact. Your university careers service will have a list of alumni or local organisations who are happy to talk with students and offer an insight into their work and possibly some work shadowing.

Applications

You should treat your internship application with the same mentality as you would an application for a graduate job. You may have to adopt a slightly different approach to creating your CV at this stage, since you are seeking an internship and may have limited experience to present. You could include some of the modules or areas of study that make up your current qualification: a full list of subjects or modules will not say as much about you as a carefully selected list of subjects or modules that you find interesting or perform well at.

You can get advice on writing CVs from your careers service and from the gradireland directory and this website.

When to do it

The best time to get some experience in the workplace will depend a lot on your academic commitments and the other activities your institution has to offer which you might want to get involved in. It is for you to decide what your priorities are; financial pressures mean many students do part-time work. But you can also develop employability skills through your involvement in societies and sports because you are bound to be involved in communication and teamwork as well as problem-solving.