Experience of the world of work is really valuable in helping you to make career choices - deciding on a career area, on an employer or even on a particular company - but, when it comes to finding a job, having some experience will really help you out. Employers really value experience outside of the classroom.
Opportunities to gain experience are available throughout your college years, sometimes as a placement as part of your degree programme. It's never too early to start the process of building up your experience.
Volunteering can be a great way to get your foot in the door of an organisation or into a particular career area. It can be something you do as an individual, or as part of a club or organisation.
Volunteering can develop skills and experience that you can list on your CV - people skills; communication skills; team building skills; practical skills - all can be developed by volunteering. It strengthens your skill set and equips you for the world of work and may even be a stepping stone to getting other kinds of experience.
Volunteering shows initiative, which is always seen as a good thing. As well as having personal rewards, volunteering is viewed positively by potential employers.
More on volunteering here
Part-time Work and Summer Jobs - take advantage of the holiday periods and term breaks while you are at college. A part-time or summer job can be an important way to gain experience, particularly if it has relevance to your career field or industry sector.
Focus on the skills you are developing and the level of responsibility you are given. It could be the perfect stepping stone to getting a competitive internship later on or the job you really want when you finish college.
International Work Experience - lots of students go abroad during the summer months to get experience in career-related areas. BUNAC offers programmes such as Summer Camp USA, KAMP USA and Work Canada.
|According to the gradireland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey, over 81 per cent of the employers surveyed offer work experience. Over 89 per cent of these companies say that they pay students during the internship. Rates of pay vary but the average is between €1,400 – €1,599 per month.|
INTERNSHIPS - these are structured work experience programmes. Students receive supervised, practical experience in a career-related area. The internship will typically last around 8 - 12 weeks, perhaps over the summer break of your college programme.
Internships are a great way of helping you to clarify your future career path. They tend to be advertised by employers, with an application process similar to that for their permanent graduate jobs, so you’ll need to be proactive about finding one.
On some undergraduate degree programmes, internships are offered to students in the summer between the second and third years at university. Most of these are highly structured, paid internships or work experience programmes that often work as a ‘talent pipeline’ for employers, giving them the opportunity to observe potential employees in action and, if impressed, to make a permanent, post-graduation job offer when the internship finishes.
How / Where to find them
- Liaise with the person in your college or department who is assigned to looking after the internship component of your programme.
- Check in with the Career Development Centre in your college for help with identifying companies to apply to.
- Watch out for the various recruitment events which are held every year at colleges and Universities. Use these events to learn about companies first hand, to network and to ask about internship opportunities. Recruitment events are also advertised on Facebook and Twitter.
- Internship opportunities and holiday job vacancies are also advertised on college websites, as well as on company websites.
EY Summer Internship Programme - check it out here.
Government Support Programmes - There are a number of government employment schemes that are available for unemployed people who are in receipt of a social welfare payment. Certain schemes are also open to those who are not in receipt of a payment (e.g. Work Placement Programme). The aim of these initiatives is to encourage jobseekers to upskill, engage in employment opportunities and gain experience.
More information on employment support programmes is available here.
|See also Graduate Recruitment for details of other employers who offer Internship Opportunities as well as recruiting Graduates.|
Tips & Advice
- Start looking early in the year - finding internships can be very competitive so it's wise start your search in your first semester
- Research – identify the major employers in your area of interest and check their websites for details of what they offer
- Network – make use of any contacts you have who might be able to help you in your search. Find out if there are any current or former students from your college who work at any of the companies you are interested in
- Apply - You have nothing to lose by submitting an application and being in with a chance
- Persist – you may need to submit several applications before you are successful.
IAESTE Ireland - The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience. A worldwide network operating in 87 countries that organises paid, course-related traineeships for students and recent graduates of technical subjects such as Engineering, Science, and IT. Traineeships are offered by a huge variety of employers, ranging from multinational companies to university research departments to start-up enterprises.
AIESEC – international student society providing a wide range of internship and volunteer opportunities around the world.
gradireland – details of internship and work experience opportunities with Irish companies who recruit graduates.