Graduate employment and skills guide

Gain experience

Work experience might also help you find out more about the sectors you are interested in and help you to develop your professional network.

You can get experience and in lots of different ways. Internships – a fixed period of work experience – and volunteering are both ways to learn about specific working environments while developing experience, meeting new people and building your confidence.

The majority of interns are classed as workers so should receive at least the National Minimum Wage (although there are some exemptions). You can find out more on Pay for Interns on the Prospects website.

Finding work experience

There are lots of resources you can use to help you find the right work experience opportunity for you.

Many universities and colleges support internship and work-based learning programmes for their students and graduates.

It’s worth checking with your university or college careers service to see what support is available.

The National Careers Service has lots of information about how work experience can help you and the different types work experience, and how to find virtual internships.

Prospects also has information about work experience and internships, and helps you to search for opportunities.

RateMyPlacement has launched a free Work Ready Virtual Experience.

This is designed to help you to develop skills that are highly valued by employers, including wellbeing and resilience, virtual first impressions and virtual networking.

The company also hosts a series of virtual events, allowing you to speak directly to employers and learn more about careers in the industries that you are interested in.

Work experience opportunities

Lots of employers offer work experience and internship programmes, as well as help to develop your employability skills and opportunities to learn more about their specific sector.

Please note that some of these opportunities require applications to be submitted before the end of the academic year, so do check the deadlines.

The Kickstart Scheme is a six-month paid job with a local employer, funded by the government.

It provides opportunities to gain experience working in some of Britain’s most exciting companies.

The Kickstart Scheme is open to 16- to 24-year-olds who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment.

Please talk to your work coach to find out more.

The Prince’s Trust runs the Get Into programme to help 16- to 30-year-olds into paid employment, with partners like the NHS, Marks & Spencer’s and HSBC.

You'll develop work experience while getting help from a mentor on how to build your confidence in interviews and plan for your future in work.

The Prince’s Trust also has free online courses to help you develop your employability skills. 

Bright Network is running Internship Experience UK, a series of three-day virtual internship experiences taking place across eight sectors from 28 June and 22 July 2021.

Participants will attend sessions from leading employers and careers skills specialists, as well as having the chance to build their networks and work on a ‘real-life’ work sample to consolidate learning.

The Bright Network Academy is a free e-learning platform, with expert-led courses on topics including how to network effectively, commercial awareness and how to make your CV stand out.

To help boost your employability and navigate virtual recruitment, Enterprise runs several webinars and events that could help you. 

Past events and bite-sized sector insights can be found on its YouTube channel

You also find employability tips on its careers blog, including how to make the most of a virtual career fair.

Working with young people

These opportunities might be useful if you are interested in a career working with children and young people, such as teaching.

Graduates may be eligible to apply for paid mentoring and tutoring roles with the National Tutoring Programme.

The National Tutoring Programme aims to provide high-quality tuition to help pupils who have missed out the most as a result of school closures to catch-up.

To find out more about the programme and what roles are available, please visit the National Tutoring Programme website.

The National Citizen Service is running a variety of programmes and activities this year to engage and support young people all over the country.

Programme staff play a crucial role in making the programmes happen, by being a mentor, a sounding board and a role model.

If you’d be interested in being a paid or volunteer member of staff, please go to the website to find out more.

See a video guide to the National Citizen Service’s 2021 summer programme.

Creative opportunities

This opportunity might be of interest to those looking to work in the creative sector.

The Crafts Council can help you start your career in craft with a series of job profiles and interviews.

Those aged 16-30, can join the Young Craft Citizens network offering talks, workshops, youth advocacy and paid opportunities and chance to produce.

The Directory of Craft Makers has a special discount for graduates and links you to our business skills programmes. 

Construction and engineering opportunities

These opportunities might particularly useful if you are interested in construction and engineering.

Transport for London (TfL) is working with its training partners to offer a construction skills programme, which would give you the opportunity to experience the construction industry through an employability programme and work placement opportunities with industry employers across London.

Find out about apprenticeship roles at TfL

See a full list of graduate roles at TfL

If you are interested in a career in the construction and built environment sector, then Go Construct can help by providing construction careers advice, sharing insights about what it’s like to work in construction and signposting jobs and opportunities.

If you are interested in a career in engineering construction, then the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board can help by providing careers advice and setting out routes into engineering construction, and signposting other useful resources.


The National Careers Service has specific advice on volunteering, including how to choose a volunteering position and how to apply.

International students on a Student (or Tier 4) visa can volunteer. You can also do voluntary work, if you have work rights, up to the total number of hours you are allowed to work during term-time.

You should check that you are still eligible for any volunteering or voluntary work schemes under the conditions of your visa if they might take place in term-time, and talk to your university or college if you are unsure.

Volunteering Matters is able to broker volunteering opportunities with the Royal Voluntary Service, enabling you to volunteer in hospital retail outlets, community services, and the NHS. 

For example, Coram Beanstalk can connect you to opportunities to support primary school pupils with reading and City Year will enable you to volunteer as a mentor in a school.

Volunteering Matters also has internal volunteering opportunities, allowing you to get involved in youth social action and community support roles all over the world.

Graduates can volunteer to support the delivery of the government-funded summer schools programme at their former schools, which aims to support pupils whose education has suffered the most from the impacts of the pandemic.

If you are interested in this opportunity, consider contacting your old schools to see if they are running a summer programme and if so, whether support is needed.

If you would like to volunteer to help support activities for children in your area, check, which will direct you to your local authority website.

Libraries welcome volunteers to help with activities and programmes of work, such as the Summer Reading Challenge, which aims to help children develop their enjoyment of reading.

Visit your local branch or library website to find out more.

Graduates can play a crucial role in protecting national security by joining the Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy and Royal Marines reserves.

Being a reservist is designed to fit alongside current employment as you undertake training in the evenings and at weekends.

You will be paid for the time you spend training. You will often train and serve alongside regular recruits and it can be a great way to build your management and leadership skills, travel and meet new people.

Find out more about reserve schemes at:

If you are passionate about your local canals and waterways, then the Canal and River Trust has a diverse range of voluntary opportunities.

For example, you can join the nationwide Towpath Taskforce or join the Explorer Education programme to help children learn about local heritage and wildlife. Look on the website for opportunities in your area.

For those with science, technology, engineering and maths degrees, there are also graduate roles.

Volunteering as a magistrate is a way to develop experience in legal processes while supporting your local community.

The primary objective of the magistrate role is to administer justice by making impartial decisions, based on evidence, and in line with the law.

Graduates can gain valuable transferable skills by committing 13 days a year, plus additional days required for training, to hear cases in criminal and family courts.

Published 10 May 2021

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