Volunteering, placements and work experience at university – What’s right for you?

Juggling lectures and seminars, working a part-time job, socialising and having free time for yourself is tough enough. But universities also expect students to gain experience and volunteer. Don’t panic! To decrease the stress of this we have broken down volunteering, placements and work experience so you can decipher for yourself what is the most beneficial for you.


Volunteering while at university can be a valuable experience, especially if you have some free time. It’s a great way to show potential employers that you’re committed to your field, and it can also help you meet peers and established professionals who can be helpful contacts in the future. Additionally, volunteering can make you a top candidate for paid jobs, as employers may be more likely to hire someone they already know and trust.


Many courses offer the opportunity to complete a placement between your second and final years. This allows you to gain real-world experience in your field while working a minimum number of hours per week, as set by your university. In most cases, placements are paid. You can find placements by applying directly to advertised positions or by contacting companies individually and asking if they have any openings.

Work experience 

Work experience is a valuable opportunity to gain hands-on experience in your chosen field, develop your skills, and build your network. It can also help you decide if a particular career is right for you and make you a more competitive candidate for graduate jobs. While you’re at university, there are a number of ways to gain work experience. You can apply for internships, volunteer placements, or part-time jobs in your field. You can also reach out to companies directly and ask if they have any opportunities for students.

If you’re unsure which placement is right for you or how to search for one, reach out to your university’s career centre. They can advise you on how to build a strong CV and find the right placements and internships for your skills and interests. Many universities also offer workshops and talks led by professionals in different fields, who share their experiences and offer advice to students interested in following similar career paths. 

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