Find jobs and work experience
You will find a range of information and advice on this page to support you in your search for professional work experience, internships, placements and graduate roles. This includes information on role types,considering your preference on sectors and organisation sizes, where to look for opportunities and more.
Types of jobs and opportunities available
- Graduate Programme/scheme: a structured role (usually between 1-3 years in length) more common in larger companies, combining work and training and requiring a degree.
- Graduate Internship: a shorter term role (usually between 1 month and 1 year) often within small to medium size organisations, working on a specific project or within a specific department/team.
- Entry level roles: usually offered in more niche areas such as charities, journalism, social enterprises, sport and within small to medium size organisations in which you progress from entry level by demonstrating your competence and future potential.
- A 45 week period of professional level work experience usually taken after the 2nd year of your undergraduate degree and before your final year.
- A placement forms part of your degree for which you are awarded one of these additional qualifications: Diploma in Industrial Studies (DIS), Diploma in Professional Studies (DPS) or Diploma in International Studies (DIntS).
- For more information go to Get a placement.
Part Time Work
- Securing part time work can help develop your skills and employability.
- Whilst studying it is not usually at a professional level, but any experience of work will help you develop your skills and career awareness.
- For further information on part time work in Loughborough, please see our PDF:
- You can start gaining work experience at any stage of your degree. Doing some work experience might help you decide which career area or industry sector you want to work in. It can allow you to build a network of contacts who can assist you, should you choose to apply for a placement year.
- If a full year’s placement is not viable for your circumstances, or the career route you have chosen, you can gain many of the same benefits from one or more shorter periods of work experience.
- An internship is a temporary ‘position’ with an emphasis on professional work experience, usually undertaken in vacation periods, and can be paid or unpaid. ‘Interns’ are usually students, and internships can last for any length of time between one week and 12 months months.
- The terminology can be confusing; in most cases these are placements or work experience opportunities by a different name, preferred by certain industries. So if you are looking for a short placement, look out for internships as well, but don’t limit yourself to these alone.
- We believe that internships should be paid opportunities and most now are, but in some sectors some internships are still unpaid.
- Summer and vacation internships are offered as opportuntities to students to gain experience and an understanding of a sector, company and job role.
- We encourage you to consider vacation placements, often advertised online in the same way as 12 month placements. Spending your vacation working shows employers that you are making the best use of your time and provides an opportunity to try out more than one type of role.
- Lots of roles are advertised but you can also find your own vacation experience. (See Apply speculatively for jobs and work experience below.)
- Spending between 1 day to 2 weeks observing and 'shadowing' a member of staff in a company or organisation to get an insight into their job role, duties and responsibilities.
- Work shadowing provides a great opportunity to see a job from the inside-out and can help you make decisions about your future career options.
- This gives you the opportunity to ask questions, gain insight, develop further contacts and potentially arrange a longer period of work experience.
- Volunteering is about offering your time to do something useful e.g. helping a group, a charity, or an individual, but without receiving payment. These types of opportunities can be some of the most rewarding work you will do.
- Voluntary, community and university activities are popular among Loughborough students, many of which are facilitated by Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU). Roles in student clubs and societies also help you to develop employment skills. For more on LSU activities, see the LSU website.
- Voluntary roles are available in a range of sectors in the UK, and with local and national charities. You can volunteer on an ongoing or one-off basis during term time or holidays, and even abroad during vacations.
- You can volunteer in addition to undertaking other types of work experience and volunteering is sometimes a requirement for progression in certain career areas.
- For more advice and links on volunteering visit Prospects and to explore opportunities in Leicestershire visit Voluntary Action Leicestershire.
- An opportunity for you to benefit from advice and guidance from industry contacts, including Loughborough alumni who are keen to help students progress.
- A chance to gain inside information, advice and guidance on your mentor's job role, their industry sector and tips on job hunting.
- You can search for Loughborough Alumni on LinkedIn and there are many online articles on how to find a mentor.
Sectors and organisation sizes to consider
It is important to consider what sort of employer and sector you would prefer to work for based on your own values and motivations. See the following examples of the most common sectors and organisation sizes:
- Charity: Charitable organisations run a kind of business that fits within the nonprofit organisation (NPO) category. They can be run publicly or privately. Some charities may be centered around religious, educational or other public interest activities that are philanthropic in nature.
- Public: The public sector covers areas run by government services (local and central). The composition of the public sector varies by country, but in most countries the public sector includes services such as the police, military, infrastructure, education, healthcare and safeguarding.
- Private: The private sector is not run by goverment services, but run by companies to make profit.
- Large graduate employers: these businesses have typically over 250 employees (and can be in any sector)
- Smaller businesses: are organisations with anything under 250 employees (again these can be within any sector). For more information on small to medium sized businesses, see our PDF:
- Working for a smaller business
To get a better understanding of your work preferences based on your personality, values and motivation, you can complete the Type Dynamics Indicator Form O. This can be found within Profiling For Success in the Online Tools section.
Where to look for jobs and opportunities
Careers Online is Loughborough University's own vacancy system. On this we advertise over 7000 graduate jobs, placements, internships, part time work and voluntary roles a year. These roles are often exclusive to Loughborough students and sent to us by our graduate employer partners wanting Loughborough talent.
*PLEASE NOTE - whilst we do our utmost to evaluate each role advertised via Careers Online please assess each opportunity carefully and consider whether or not your personal circumstances will be affected by taking up said opportunity. Whilst we have made every effort to check the roles advertised, we cannot always guarantee their authenticity*
We also produce a weekly graduate jobs and placements and internships bulletins for you to access new opportunities. Please see the latest edition of the bulletins below:
Many roles are advertised on social media including Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. further information can be found below under the Networking to find opportunities section.
You can also follow the Careers Network job feed @LboroCareers to receive updates on new graduate, placement, internship and part time roles advertised by employers.
Below is a selection of popular websites relevant for finding a range of jobs and opportunities including placements, graduate roles and internships.
- All About Careers
- Give A Grad A Go
- Graduate Recruitment Bureau
- Inside Careers
- LinkedIn jobs
- Rate my placement
Graduates First offers free candidate recruitment and assessment guides to 100+ top employers, including the 'Big 4', big banks (Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Goldman Sachs), consultancies (Accenture, McKinsey, Grant Thornton) and many more.”
There are also a number of organisations that specifically support students and graduate from diverse groups secure employment. Please see our PDF with a list of organisations:
- Diversity and Inclusion Organisations
- Companies offering internships and opportunities for candidates from diverse groups.
There are a number of employer directories and listings available to help you research potential employers to apply for. The publications below are all available online and when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted printed copies will be available free from Careers Network.
- Gradcracker - where the STEM jobs are
- Inside Careers - Chartered Accountancy
- Inside Careers - The Actuarial Profession
- Inside Careers - The Insurance Profession
- Inside Careers - Patent Attourneys
- Rate my Placement: The Top 100 Undergraduate Employers
- Targetjobs: Career guides and directories (City & Finance, Law, Engineering, Property, IT & Technology, Management Consulting)
- The Guardian UK 300 Top Graduate Employers
- The Job Crowd: The Top Companies for Graduates to Work For
- Times Top 100 Graduate Employers
There are almost always a number of business parks housing small and large businesses in all cities and towns. Search for local business parks, visit the area and see if there are any companies that take your interest. You can then contact the organisations and ask for work experience.
Job centres can support you in a number of ways ranging from job search assistance to financial support and offer courses to help you gain more experience.
Agencies help companies advertise positions. They can also help match job seekers to roles based on their skills and competencies. You will likely be asked to give the agency a CV and covering letter and also meet with them to discuss your plans and options. Please visit the “Recruitment Agencies” section on prospects.ac.uk for more information.
You are able to search for jobs on local council websites. Many often have graduate roles, placements and internships available.
Newspapers have a job section (often online) in which you can look for a variety of jobs from part time through to graduate roles.
Explore opportunities around the world
For information on and further resources on opportunities in other countries, see Working abroad.
Don't miss Going Global - which provides global career intelligence and expert advice on how to find a job or internship in your dream location or close to home.
Apply speculatively for jobs and work experience
Many students are successful in securing an advertised opportunity with an employer. But in industry sectors where formal work experience programmes are not widespread, you should also consider making speculative applications.
Identifying hidden or ‘unadvertised’ opportunities
- Firstly, decide on the type of sector, company and role you are interested in. You can get help with this from the Careers Network team and it’s also useful to talk about your ideas with tutors, family and friends, or employers.
- Secondly, consider other factors including possible locations, where you might live and your financial situation.
- Find relevant employer directories and use professional or industrial bodies to select companies that interest you and identify where they are located. Once you have an idea of what you are looking for it can be useful to search by type of company and/or specific location. Being ‘flexible’ is helpful, but company research can be time consuming so it’s good to narrow down your search. You can then research organisations via their websites, online articles and news reports.
- You can also identify employers you’d like to target by researching graduate destinations from your course, vacancy sites, sector information and job profiles on websites such as www.prospects.ac.uk and www.targetjobs.co.uk. You might need to ‘go the extra mile’ to find unadvertised or new specialist opportunities, or to persuade a company that they need you on their team!
Researching and creating links with employers
- Once you have established that your preferred companies are not currently advertising a placement or job you can then work on a strategy for approaching them.
- Following them on social media and talking to them at careers fairs is great for obtaining named contacts or advice on applying.
- You will then need to formulate your speculative, tailored applications and you’ll get the best response by finding a named person to send them to.
Making contacts and promoting yourself to employers
- When writing speculatively to an employer, briefly introduce yourself, who you are, what you are studying and what you are looking for in terms of workshadowing a placement or graduate role. Be clear about the type of experience you are looking for, but show your willingness to be flexible too.
- Then explain your interest in the company and work area, and say how this relates to your career aspirations. Give the employer some further reasons to take an interest in you (your interests and skills, other work experience or relevant training) remembering to relate this to the experience requested.
- Finally, tell them about your availability and attach your CV. Close your message positively and politely, reiterating your interest, willingness to provide any further information and your hope to hear from them soon.
- Always use a professional tone and double check your grammar and spelling. You could consider sending a letter through the post, enclosing your CV - both printed on good quality paper. This might help your application stand out more, than one among hundreds of emails!
Following up your request
- If you don’t receive a response to your request within a couple of weeks, don’t give up. You have to strike a balance between making allowances for busy professionals, who may be frequently away from their desks, and allowing your message to be overlooked and left un-actioned.
- Follow up with at least one more email, or make a phone call if you can obtain a direct number. Make sure you show respect for your contact’s busy schedule and thank them for their time. If you have been professional and polite you shouldn’t be afraid of following up your application, nor of people saying ‘no’. It’s just part of the journey towards getting a ‘yes’!
Arranging a short period of work experience or work shadowing
It isn’t realistic to expect to arrange a 45-week placement or a graduate job from a speculative email alone; it can take a little more work than that. The advice in ‘Networking to find opportunities’ (below) will help you to develop contacts and establish relationships with employers who are more likely to be able to help and to consider an approach which unfolds in stages.
TOP TIPS for contacting employers
Whatever your approach, the following will get you closer to what you are searching for.
Reflect: Be clear what sort of work experience you are looking for and why. What are your interests and future career hopes, what do you want to learn and how will this take you forward with your career planning? If you can answer these questions confidently, you will be able to sell yourself more effectively to a prospective work experience host, than someone who just wants to get anything on their CV.
Do your research: Whether it’s a year placement, a 3-month internship or two days’work shadowing, the employer will be looking for motivation. Demonstrate a genuine interest in the organisation and the role by doing some background research and be ready to show your understanding of what they do, what’s going on in their sector and how this relates to your own career plans.
Make an ‘Elevator Pitch’: Devise and practise an “elevator pitch” i.e. a clear and succinct explanation (ready to go, whatever the situation) of who you are, what you’re looking for, and what you have to offer. Then you’ll be ready to network and sell yourself with confidence wherever you are. You never know who might get into the lift with you or who you might be sitting next to on the train!
Be flexible: Even if you want two or three months’ solid work experience it’s often more productive to ask for less initially. Many professionals are busy, but would actually like to help. Consider asking for an ‘information interview’ to begin with (see the Network tab below). People love to talk about themselves and how they’ve got to where they are in their careers, and are willing to spare time to do this. Once you’ve established a relationship in this way, it can lead to further work shadowing, more contacts within that organisation and potentially some lengthier work experience.
Be proactive and resilient: Use research and networking to seek out hidden opportunities. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone, playing detective, being creative and solving problems, are behaviours that will build your confidence and increase your chances of finding the work experience you need, setting you on the path to future career success.
Network to find opportunities
Networking is a valuable life skill which will help you as a student, a graduate and throughout your career. It requires practice, but with the opportunities and support available to you at Loughborough, using it to uncover placements and work experience or search for graduate roles is the perfect time to start building your network.
As well as the advice below, you can refer to the Careers Network resources:
- Networking for career planning and job search
- Using social media and LinkedIn for your job search
- LinkedIn checklist
Networking can be defined as the ability to interact with other people to exchange information, and develop contacts, helping you to discover opportunities and make decisions. You will have already begun to learn this skill at University and it will become one of the most important skills you develop to enhance your future career success.
The idea of networking is to approach your existing contacts for help and advice and then tap into their network to make further useful contacts. Gradually, you can build up a wide range of contacts which then become part of your network. This process is reciprocal and in time you will be able to give back to your network and share your own experiences in areas where others need help.
Networking to find jobs and work experience
By developing a network of professional contacts, you can access advice and support from people working in your chosen industry and explore possible placement and work experience opportunities. During and following a placement you can continue to widen your network when investigating graduate opportunities and beyond.
Effective networking will help you to:
- learn more about the roles, routes into a profession and current issues within that sector
- get noticed and stand out to potential employers
- develop confidence and knowledge which will appeal to potential recruiters
- gain work shadowing and/or work experience.
Finding people to network with
Start connecting with people in your immediate network; friends, family, University contacts and people you know through employment, volunteering or social activities, at University and at home. Make it known you are actively looking for experience or a job in your chosen sector. Ask if they know anyone that might be able to help you with information, advice or further contacts.
Don’t overlook other contacts that might be close by, e.g. at the gym or hairdressers. If you have a part time job working with the public or train at a sports club, you might meet people every day, without realising it, that could help or put you in contact with someone who can.
Making new connections
At University you can find new contacts in a variety of ways: at careers fairs; individual employer events on campus; presentations by external speakers invited in by your School; the Students’ Union or student societies; and by connecting with Loughborough alumni.
Student membership of a professional body for your chosen career area can be an excellent source of contacts; many have online forums and regional and national activities.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels can also help with your research.
Approaching your contacts
Successful networking takes research and preparation. You probably want to do this quickly but it is not something you should rush. Research each contact before approaching them and find out about their role and their organisation if relevant. This will give you information which could impress them later in the process.
Consider your aims and prepare a list of questions and things you want to know about. Your initial contact with them is likely to be via email, but try and arrange to speak to them via telephone or video call, or in person if possible, depending on where they are geographically and the type of information you are seeking.
Whatever your approach, introduce yourself concisely, explain where you got their contact details and briefly outline the purpose of your enquiry. If you have already met them in person (e.g. at a careers fair) then mention when and where. If the contact doesn’t respond, try again a few weeks later. If you still have no luck, don’t hassle them – try another person.
One of the fastest and most accessible ways to network is online. LinkedIn was one of the first tools created to enable you to connect with others and showcase your online CV via your LinkedIn profile. Further advice on setting up your LinkedIn profile, and using it for online professional networking, is available in The Ultimate LinkedIn Cheat Sheet, from LinkedIn and in the Careers Network
A good place to start is with an alumni search to seek out Loughborough graduates who have gone into work areas you are interested in, and contact them to ask their advice on how to get experience in their company or sector.
Once someone has agreed to give you some of their time, or meet you in person, an information interview is where you can ask your questions, to get an understanding of their job role and insight into their experiences in the sector.
Your questions might include:
- Can you describe your current role?
- What skills/qualifications/experiences were vital in getting into this career area?
- What are typical career paths in your field?
- How is your profession changing?
- Can you suggest useful sources of information for finding work placements or internships?
Remember this is not a recruitment interview to get you a job, so ask questions to develop your knowledge rather than making a ‘sales pitch’. Having said this, towards the end of your information interview you could ask for a work shadowing or work experience opportunity, or how you might proceed to discuss setting up an internship or graduate job.
Always follow up any discussion with a thank you email. Review your notes about the conversation and take any action suggested. Remember to be polite and professional at all times and use discretion where needed.
Use labour market information to research opportunities
The home of student and graduate labour market information from Prospects. Providing a fresh voice for the sector, it is aimed at careers advisers, recruiters, employers and anyone interested in LMI. Luminate features advice, views, trends and dissects the latest research.
PROSPECTS Luminate presents national first-degree graduate destinations 15 months after graduation, with data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency's Graduate Outcomes 2017/18 survey.
Working Futures provides a detailed and comprehensive set of UK labour market projections giving a picture of employment prospects by industry, occupation, qualification level, gender and employment status for the UK and for nations and English regions up to 2020.
The research reports on the Graduate Market in 2018 including an annual review of graduate vacancies and starting salaries of Britain's leading employers. It also includes factors employers consider when deciding to hire a graduate.
Information on recent graduates in the labour market by the Office for National Statistics.
A celebration of some of the fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK examines the opportunities and challenges facing SMEs and looks at the sectors and trends that will shape the future of the UK economy.
Labour market information from Vitae.
A study of the early career patterns of graduates in practice-based art, design, crafts and media subjects.
Consider self-employment or starting up a business
To find explore how you might become self-employed or set up your own business visit our webpage here.
You can get further information on the Loughborough Enterprise Network website.
It is also possible to work on starting or growing a business during your placement year, and there is great support available from the University. Start by talking to your School’s Placement Officer.