work experienceHaving some form of work experience makes it easier to get a good job when you graduate. In fact, around half of recruiters say that it is essential for a graduate to have some form of work experience as it shows that you can apply your skills in a variety of settings and act in a professional manner.

Work experience can come in many forms. We offer detailed advice on how to find opportunities as well as one-to-one internship consultations with our placement and internship advisers which can be booked via JobsLive

Below we’ve outlined some key information for you to consider when it comes work experience:

Getting work experience


Many companies offer formal paid summer internships but most do not hire first year students. There are however many organisations that offer dedicated short insight programmes to first year students and we advertise many of these on JobsLive. You’ll need to be quick though as the closing dates are often in the autumn term!

Securing an internship can be a great first step to a career but don’t worry if you’re unsuccessful in getting one as there are many worthwhile alternatives to gain insights and experience.

Part-time jobs

Working a part-time job alongside your studies can be a great way to earn money and demonstrate skills such as teamwork, communication and customer service etc. Be aware though that a part-time job may adversely affect your studies or health if you fail to manage your time effectively. Also, if you are an international student your visa may have restrictions on the number of hours you are permitted to work. If you have any doubts whether you can fit work around your studies we’d recommend you speak to us or your tutor/supervisor. Jobs are posted widely on the internet and we also advertise many roles on JobsLive

See our handout on Finding part-time work‌‌

Vacation jobs

A vacation job can be a great way to gain skills that will enhance your CV, build a network of contacts and possibly gain valuable insight into a particular industry or organisation. It’s great if you can find employment in an industry you’re interested in working for in the future, but ultimately all experience is good experience. For example securing a job in retail will give you some money but more importantly it allows you to demonstrate working with customers and within a team environment. Jobs are posted widely on the internet and we also advertise many roles on JobsLive.


Working with a charity is valued by many employers and can be essential to gain entry to some career sectors such as conservation. Volunteering can be a great way to develop many career related skills for example; leadership, event management, teamwork, administration, creativity, marketing and organisation. It’s also a great way to give something back to the community and build networks. Check out our volunteering pages.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP)

You can enhance your appreciation of the research environment through a UROP while developing skills and furthering your enthusiasm for your discipline. During a UROP you will work with researchers in an Imperial laboratory for a period of usually no longer than 12 weeks during the summer vacation period. Check out The UROP Website for more details.


We can help develop your knowledge of a professional workplace and potential careers through linking you with an alumnus who can share their experiences with you. Find out more at Ask an Alumnus.

Work Shadowing

Observing someone in the workplace can help you to understand their role and how they do their job. Its aim is to provide an insight in to the work environment rather than to give you hands on experience. We launched a scheme during 2016-17 academic year to help connect you with work shadowing opportunities in a range of organisations but you can always make speculative approaches to individuals or organisations to try to arrange your own work shadowing.

Travel alternatives

There are no set rules to what you should do with your vacations. They can be fantastic opportunities to travel and explore the world and if you use your time well you’ll also develop many important life skills that are valued by employers. Travel can help develop maturity and independence, help gain insights about yourself and enable you to become more culturally diverse. You may even want to combine travel with volunteering or employment. Information on our Taking a year out webpage can be a useful starting point if you’re considering traveling next summer.