Getting Work Experience

Paid or unpaid, work experience is valuable!

According to a recent gradireland survey, over 85% of companies offer work experience or internships.

What types of work experience are out there?

  • Work Shadowing:  Unpaid.  Short term.  Observe a professional at work.
  • Placement:  Paid.  1-6 months.  Organised work experience doing a specific job for the company. May be part of your studies.
  • Internship: Paid / Unpaid.  Formal work experience in an area related to your degree or to a career you wish to pursue.
  • Stage: French term for work experience, often used in EU.

Making the most of work experience 

  • Set objectives with your manager and find out exactly what they expect from you. Ask if you need help!
  • Show an interest in the company, be enthusiastic and hardworking – more opportunities may crop up.
  • Improve your interpersonal skills – talk to other employees and find out what their job entails and how they got them.  Offer to help if they need it.
  • Record everything that you do.  You then have a ’selection of evidence’ of the skills you have acquired or expanded.

How to find work experience:

Through Careers:

We'll advertise all paid jobs in Careers Connect - log in using your student login to search / browse opportunities. Summer placements can be more formal and advertised either on the company’s website or through the Careers Connect. Tip - update your profile to get weekly updates on opportunities!

Any internship / work experience programmes which tend to be available every year (often unpaid) will be mentioned on our internships tab.

Other on-campus help:

Visit the Students Union – they may know of other job vacancies.  

Keep an eye on academic unit noticeboards as some companies contact them directly.

Look for voluntary opportunities with charities at home or abroad.  This will help to develop the attributes and skills that employers seek. Join ALIVE programme while studying.

Join a society / club that interests you and get involved in marketing, organising, web-site design – anything that is appropriate to the career you have in mind.

Other ideas:

Apply on spec to companies. Make a list of companies that suit you either by looking at company directories or the Golden Pages.  Tailor your CV and cover letter to suit each company.

Talk to friends and family to see if anyone has a contact that could be useful (after all, 70% of jobs are not advertised!).

Use the Christmas rush to your advantage – working in a shop or an office will develop many skills [working under pressure, interpersonal, communication, decision making skills, showing flexibility etc].

Read's articles on work experience.

Starting points for the UK are Rate My Placement's top undergraduate employers directory and  Prospects' work experience pages.

An internship or other summer activity can offer you valuable experience in the sector you wish to work in and, in some cases, it can be difficult to secure a full time job without having work experience. 

The following are some of the range of opportunities that are out there (this is not an exhaustive list). Please bear in mind that these opportunities may be unpaid. We will advertise paid opportunities on Careers Connect (tip: update your profile on Careers Connect to receive weekly emails of Job Opportunities).

Competitions and business events can also add to your skill set, and some could lead to an internship - see our Make the most of university page.


Closing dates for some opportunities may be expired - they are kept online as examples of types of internships that can be available and also may recur annually

There are many formal paid and unpaid traineeships for recent graduates available throughout the EU and associated agencies / institutions.

EPSO have put together a great overview of those on offer - just click on the individual box and the information will appear beneath. 

European Central Bank  "traineeship opportunities for students with at least a bachelor’s degree, including PhD students, or for recent graduates in areas such as economics, finance, statistics, business administration, law, human resources and translation."

European Space Agency ESA - opportunities include Young Graduate Trainees and Student Internships.  

Amgen Scholars engage in a hands-on research experience at many of the world's leading educational institutions.Ultimately, the Programme aims to increase the number of students pursuing advanced training and careers in the sciences.

Activelink  Irish online network for non-profit organisations. Information on jobs, tenders, volunteering, events, fundraising, training, publications and funding in the non-profit sector.