Placements, work experience and volunteering
Why is work experience valuable?
Why is work experience valuable?
Work experience or volunteering can give you insight into what you enjoy and don't enjoy in a working environment. Even a low-level job can provide a view of the realities of life in that organisation and offer the chance to talk to people doing the type of work you might hope to do in the longer term.
Demonstrating your skills and abilities
You will gain valuable transferable and practical skills - how to deal with people, work within a team, use office equipment and IT packages, for example.
Why do employers like you to have work experience or volunteering?
Most employers will ask about your work experience, and the benefits you have gained from it, on their application forms and during interviews. Anything that has provided you with an experience of life in what employers like to think of as the "real world" outside university is helpful particularly if it has some relevance to their organisation or the role you are applying for, but don't worry if you haven't been able to obtain such work. Something out of the ordinary can also make your application distinctive and help it to be remembered - extremely useful when you are competing with hundreds of other graduates for a job.
Work verses study time
Don’t overdo it though, it’s not wise to work more than 15/20 hours a week during term time as this may have an impact on your studies. Working long hours can also limit opportunities to make friendships and explore interests that may contribute to other areas of your life and development. If you’re an overseas student you also need to consider the requirements of your visa.
Build up your work experience
Kent Union JobShop advertises part-time jobs on and off campus
The Careers Service advertises some vacation work placements and internships on our vacancy database
In some sectors, such as environment, media, heritage and social care, volunteering is one of the main ways to build up relevant work experience. It can also be a good way to build up experience and skills for other sectors where it is hard to find paid employment or work experience. This can be carried out during term-time, in vacations or both!
- Kent Union Volunteering allows you to get involved in a vast range of volunteer placements and work towards the Kent Certificate for Volunteering
- Do-It – search for volunteer opportunities by type of work, location, hours of work etc
- Timebank www.timebank.org.uk projects mainly around mentoring and youth-led volunteering – they can help you to set up your own volunteer project!
- Volunteering England www.volunteering.org.uk/IWantToVolunteer links to local volunteer bureaux
- Vinspired http://vinspired.com has been going since 2006 and is focussed on providing opportunities for 14-25 year olds to volunteer. They helped over 31k young people last year to volunteer
- Volunteerics.org UK Government funded ICS brings together 18 to 25 year olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities through once in a lifetime volunteering opportunities.
- Medway GK Unions Facebook page https://en-gb.facebook.com/GKUnions/
Links to local volunteer organisations from
- KCC www.kent.gov.uk/community_and_living/volunteering/volunteering_opportunities.aspx
- Kent Libraries runs a volunteering scheme www.kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/volunteering/volunteer-in-libraries
- Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust – various volunteering opportunities from hospital shops to occupational therapy https://www.kmpt.nhs.uk/get-involved/volunteering/roles/
- Kent Police https://www.kent.police.uk/jobs-recruiting-now/volunteer-opportunities/
- The Kent Association for the Blind supports sight impaired people to live independent lives.
- Kent Wildlife Trust https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering Needs volunteers to help on various wildlife reserves in Kent
- Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership www.kentishstour.org.uk manages countryside and urban green spaces throughout the Stour Valley promoting habitat management, recreation and education in natural sites in East Kent, including Canterbury and surrounding areas. They are always looking for student volunteers to help on tasks which provide a worthwhile extra-curricular activity and something positive to add to their CV.
This involves spending a day (sometimes longer) following and observing somebody as they go about their day-to-day work. It is a good way of getting a first-hand insight into a career of interest to you, possibly at quite a high level.
- The University of Kent can put you in touch with Kent alumni in a variety of different areas of work. Many are available to talk informally about their work, career path and offer advice. A great place to start is by using the alumni tool on the University of Kent LinkedIn page. https://www.linkedin.com/school/university-of-kent/
- You may be able to create your own work-shadowing placement – see our Creative Career Search pages
Analyse and develop your employability skills using the Careers Employability Award
The Careers and Employability Service has developed a Careers Employability Award delivered online via Moodle. Students of any subject, at any stage of their studies are welcome to complete the module but the earlier you start the better prepared you will be to compete for internships and, eventually, graduate positions. Completing the award will greatly improve your career planning and job hunting skills, increase your work readiness and give you the confidence and strategies to get a graduate career.
Think you have an idea for business or fancy self employment?
ASPIRE – the Accelerator Space for Innovation and Responsible Enterprise at the University of Kent welcomes student innovators and entrepreneurs to discuss, encourage and accelerate the progress of your ideas. They can help you to develop entrepreneurial skills and can put you in touch with mentors and investors.
You can also opt to join the 12 week Business Start Up Journey additional to your degree.
The Hub for Innovation and Enterprise is the home of student Business and Innovation at Kent. It offers many ways of connecting students with industry to innovate. Find out more here. https://www.kent.ac.uk/innovation-hub/