Work experience is a golden opportunity to really improve your CV. In an increasingly competitive job market it can demonstrate to employers that you are genuinely "work ready". Employers value it so highly that in some sectors it is a must.
- Why do it?
- Latest Work Experience / VACWORK News
- What is VACWORK?
- Types of VACWORK / Work Experience
- Ernst & Young Essay Competition
- VACWORK Student Stories
- Occupational Surveys
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Related Resources
Why do it?
- It looks great on your CV. Any employment demonstrates to employers that you have experienced life outside of study and that you have enough initiative and responsibility to apply yourself.
- As graduate job applications soar, relevant work experience is key.
- Many employers expect students to have gained relevant work experience during summer holidays. Hear what Deutsche Bank has to say. (Source: YouTube from University of Manchester Careers Service).
- It may prove vital for entry into certain sectors. Internship programmes in larger companies are used as part of the graduate recruitment selection process, where employers recruit from the student pool who have been on their internship schemes.
- You can develop and learn new skills. Every type of work experience teaches you something and helps you to assess which skills you have and identify those you need to develop.
- You get to learn more about the jobs and industries that interest you in your career. Ultimately, the only way you can know for sure if a job is for you is by trying it out. Work experience provides a perfect opportunity to test out a job / industry / sector and really see if it suits you.
- You can make useful contacts that may prove very valuable in the field later.
- It may make your chosen career path more accessible. If your work experience is clearly linked to your chosen career path then it is invaluable. Prospective employers can patently recognise that you are genuinely committed and passionate about your field. You can demonstrate in CV and interview that you have a clear insight and understanding of the skills required for that specific role.
- It can earn you money.
Latest Work Experience / VACWORK news:
- Options Newsletter Michaelmas Term 2012 now available! (November 2012)
What is VACWORK?
VACWORK is an umbrella term we use at CAS to describe all types of career-related vacation work. The aim of VACWORK is to assist students in gaining this type of experience during the vacation months. You can find VACWORK positions advertised on the VACWORK section of the Careers Advisory Service’s vacancy website. You’ll need your TCD username and password to access this site. Every Friday in your Junior Sophister year you'll receive an e-mail entitled "VACWORK positions received this week".
Types of VACWORK / Work Experience
Structured work experience programmes where students receive supervised, practical experience in a career-related area. Internships usually last between 8 and 10 weeks and are a great way of helping you to clarify your future career path.
- Training: is provided, generally to a high level.
- Project Work: You are generally given responsibility for a specific project and you are required to make a presentation at the end of the internship.
- Advertising & Closing Dates: positions are generally advertised between October and March. Closing dates are often early in the academic year, some as early as December.
- Target Group: Junior Sophisters are the main target group, but applications may be accepted from students of other years. Students from ALL disciplines are invited to apply e.g. Arts & Science students can often apply for business internships.
- Competition: competition for places is tough but keep in mind that an estimated third of graduate vacancies are filled by applicants who have already worked for their employer as an undergraduate. Being offered a place on an internship programme often exempts you from a first round interview if you apply for a graduate position in your final year.
International Work Experience
More and more students are going abroad during the summer months for example to the US on J1 visas for at least one Summer. The Students' Union assists with J1 Visas, travel and advice. There are a number of programmes in place to help you to identify career-related vacancies.
ALL work can provide learning opportunities. You can gain valuable transferable skills in any type of part-time work, including business awareness, time-management and organisational skills.
Placements with Small Businesses
This can also be an extremely valuable experience. Either by setting up your own small business (with an innovative idea and a little capital), or by gaining some very hands on responsibility with an existing small business.
- Involves following or shadowing a professional for a week or two, usually unpaid.
- The aim is to give students an insight into what a particular job entails and the skills that are necessary for that job.
- How to get it - use personal contacts or send a CV to organisations of interest to you asking for work shadowing. This is unusual and impressive as it indicates real interest and commitment to this career path.
- Two- to four-day courses, which introduce you to a company and to the range of career opportunities on offer. Generally held around Christmas & Easter. Limited in number.
- Often used as part of the graduate selection process.
- Vacancies are primarily in UK-based companies and competition is high.
- Vacancies are advertised under VACWORK vacancies and in our newsletter - 'Options Junior Sophister' from October each year.
Voluntary work often involves greater variety and responsibility than in a paid job. This is also a terrific way of gaining valuable work experience and building up critical skills relevant to any job.
There are also specifically designed volunteer projects which often take place during the summer months. Although they are voluntary, you will probably have to pay for your own flights and some additional administration costs. For more information on finding voluntary work havwe a look at www.tcd.ie/Community and see the Voluntary Work section under "Resources" at this website.
Summer Research Opportunities
Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) UREKA (Undergraduate Research Experience and Knowledge Award) programme supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by Science Foundation Ireland.
Due to government budget cuts the UREKA site programme is no longer in operation and in 2012 there are no active UREKA sites to submit applications to.
Ernst and Young Essay Competition
Ernst & Young sponsor an Essay Competition, which encourages Senior Sophister students to reflect on the skills they gained during their summer work experience and to identify how these skills would assist them in both their final year of studies and in future job-seeking activities. First prize in this competition is €250 and second prize is €150. The 2011/12 winner was Alison Keating, (Medicinal Chemistry). Senior Sophisters, watch out for an email in Michaelmas term to notify you of this competition!
VACWORK Student Stories
Click here for student stories.
Take a look through our sector-specific Occupational Surveys:
- Computer Gaming Industry in Ireland (2010)
- Environmental Consultancies in Ireland (2008)
- Green Energy Sector in Ireland (2009)
- Journalism Sector in Ireland - Newspaper, Magazine, Television and Radio (2010)
- International Development Organisations in Ireland (2006)
- Medical Devices Sector in Ireland (2008)
- Pharmaceutical, Chemical and BioIndustry Sector in Ireland (2008)
- Publishing Companies in Ireland (2006)
- Translation and Interpreting Sector in Ireland (2009)
- Voluntary Organisations in Ireland (2008)
Frequently Asked Questions
- When are vacancies advertised?
- Opportunities are advertised all year round but the majority of summer vacancies will be advertised at our website from October - May.
- Duration of the jobs?
- Jobs are mostly available from June to September.
- Where are the vacancies advertised?
- Where are vacancies outside Ireland, UK and US?
- View Resources for more information.
Listen to some employer comments on work experience:
Paul Vance, Head of Resourcing at KPMG and Colm Cunningham, Head of Fund Accounting with Bank of New York Mellon.
|VACWORK Options Newsletter|
|Networking (personal contacts) as many jobs are not advertised. It really, really pays to make use of existing contacts you might have. See "Networking" in the Resources section of this website.|
|Advertisements in shop, restaurants & bar windows.|
|Word of mouth.|
|"Use Your Vacations" (www.tcd.ie/Careers/resources/use_your_vacations.php) Information on all types of travel abroad programmes|
|"Useful Publications" (www.tcd.ie/Careers/resources/useful_publications.php) related publications|
|Gradireland (www.gradireland.com/work-experience) Information on work experience and internships.|
|Prospects (www.prospects.ac.uk) see Work Experience and Internships section.|
|Activelink (www.activelink.ie) premier online network for non-profit organisations.|
|AIESEC (www.aiesec.org) International student society organising exchange programmes and traineeships.|
|Some companies offering volunteer programmes include: BUNAC, Comhlámh, USIT, i-to-i, Azafady, Volunteer Abroad, EIL Intercultural Learning, NGOabroad and Lattitude.|
|For more extensive information on all volunteering opportunities please visit: www.tcd.ie/community and www.volunteeringireland.com.|