Careers Service

Get some work or voluntary experience

It's much easier to get a good job when you graduate if you've already got experience of working.


  • It gives an employer confidence that you know how to act professionally at work. You also have more good examples to use as evidence of your potential, which makes you more competitive.

What sort of experience counts?

  • Part-time jobs during term-time or temporary jobs during the short vacations are all useful, if you can manage your time effectively. However, you should ideally aim to get a substantial period of work during the summer vacation - either vacation work or internships.
  • Voluntary experience or work with student societies is valued by most employers and is essential to get into some very popular careers.

Internships (a formal period of work with training)

  • Spring Insight Week in Manchester for 1st year undergraduate students organised by the Careers Service. Applications open in February.
  • Most formal summer internships are not aimed at 1st years. However, a few employers do have short insight or spring programmes for 1st years, usually in vacation periods. These programmes may have closing dates as early as autumn, so get started straight away.

Vacation or summer work

This probably won't be called an internship, but can give you some great experience - and help you get an internship next year.

Some large employers advertise their vacation work in the autumn. Other employers will advertise vacation work in spring. However, lots of vacation opportunities are never advertised. Contacts and speculative applications are an important way of finding these opportunities.

Careers where you need voluntary experience

For some popular careers, paid internships and work experience are rare, even for experienced students and graduates. Use your 1st year to build your portfolio of volunteer activities and contacts. This will give you the best chance of competing for paid opportunities later. This applies to:

  • Creative jobs, such as media, journalism, science communication
  • Heritage and arts jobs, such as museums and galleries
  • Charities and international development
  • Politics
  • Environmental work
  • Some popular areas of business, such as the fashion or music industries
  • Health and social work - caring or support experience can be very important for applying for medicine, psychology, social work and other health professions
  • Education and youth work - need experience with young people, and school experience (while at university) for teaching applications

Most employers love to see voluntary experience on your CV, whether it's related to your future career or not.

  • Find voluntary experience Our guide to finding opportunities
  • Get involved Over 30 guides to volunteering, including volunteering related to your interests and your degree subject, from the Manchester Leadership Programme
  • Manchester Leadership Programme Credit rated modules, combining learning about leadership in the 21st century with community volunteering