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What is work experience?

There are so may different forms of work experience, essentially it is anything that allows you to develop professional skills. You can work part-time or during the vacation, Unitemps offers lots of work opportunities.

Internship/vacation scheme

An undergraduate internship is a structured period of work experience usually offered by large employers.
  • The majority of internships happen over the summer and last for 6-12 weeks
  • They should be paid; unless they are part of your course
  • Some employers offer internships in the Winter or Spring, or 6-12 month internships that could mean taking a year out of your course.


Volunteering is when you give your spare time to an organisation for no payment, although travel and expenses may be reimbursed. This type of work is important for most charities, offering you experience and supporting important social and welfare issues.
  • Volunteering is easier to arrange and often more flexible than a paid job. You may even be able to help out in a role related to your career route, such as finance, IT or PR – even charities and other not-for profit organisation need people in these roles and some offer training along the way
  • Employers often see volunteering as a reflection of your values and ethics and your commitment to social and welfare issues
  • Warwick Volunteers
  • Volunteering Overseas

Work shadowing

Work shadowing is when you observe someone going about their day-to-day role with the aim of gaining a greater understanding of that career. It shouldn’t involve completing any work for the organisation – think of it as a behind-the-scenes tour of someone’s job.
  • As work shadowing doesn’t involve doing any work, it is unpaid, and it is rarely advertised
  • You should contact an organisation directly with a speculative CV and covering letter
  • This type of experience is undertaken for a short period of time, can be as short as two or three days
  • Gives you a chance to gain experience in highly competitive fields (TV, Radio, Clinical Psychology, Law, Engineering etc)
  • Shadowing can be easier and quicker to arrange than a work placement.


Placements are structured schemes by organisations to give you an overview of different aspects of work which can include working on a specific project and gaining work knowledge of various departments.
  • Various lengths and could be unpaid or paid
  • Similarly with internships it is common for companies to use placements to road-test people for permanent appointments.