Internship and work experience
There is a lot of competition for graduate roles, and gaining experience during your studies can give you an advantage in your graduate job search. Most employers will expect students to have gained some form of tangible experience in the workplace during their college years. Experience takes many forms, from involvement in clubs and societies to community work, paid or unpaid work, an internship as part of your degree course, a spring insight week or summer internship, structured work experience in a company, a laboratory or fieldwork based internship or a short period of work shadowing negotiated by you with an employer. Internships and work experience can have many career benefits such as:
- Significantly boost your chances of a securing a job you want after university
- A selling point on your CV or application that allows you to stand out from other candidates
- Work experience and internships enhance your employability and job prospects after graduation – a high percentage of graduate programme places are filled by students who have already completed an internship within the company
- Create a network of potential contacts for the future
- An opportunity to explore what it is like to work in a certain environment/job/sector. Sometimes Junior Sophister students use a laboratory or fieldwork-based internship to help them decide whether to pursue a research career after completing their degree
- If the experience is linked to your studies it can provide you with the opportunity to put course theory into practice
- Gain new skills and a better understanding of what you like and don’t like about different types of work, which will help with you future career decisions.
Visit MyCareer to see the latest internship and work experience opportunities posted by employers who want to hire Trinity students.
Types of opportunities to gain experience
Structured summer internship programmes where students receive supervised, practical experience in a company. Internships usually last between 8 and 12 weeks and are a great way to road test a career.
- 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 and 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 occasionally applications may be accepted from students of other years. Students from ALL disciplines are invited to apply to the majority of roles in many industries, for example Arts and Science students are often encouraged to apply for business internships.
- Competition: competition for places is tough but keep in mind that a significant proportion of graduate vacancies are filled by applicants who have already worked for the 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 with the same company in your final year.
Major financial services and consultancy companies in the UK often target their recruitment efforts at Senior Fresh students by offering a ‘Spring Week’ internship which includes valuable experience and sectoral insight. See Spring Week Bursary for Trinity students for more information.
International work experience
You might like to go overseas during the summer months while still gaining experience. There are a number of programmes in place to help you to identify career-related vacancies. BUNAC offers programmes such as Summer Camp USA, KAMP USA and Work Canada.
For more information on options for working abroad such as internships abroad, Erasmus+ Traineeship funding, and graduate programmes visit our Working Abroad page.
All types of work can provide learning opportunities. You can gain valuable transferable skills in any type of part-time work, including commercial awareness, time-management and organisational skills.
Placements with small businesses
Working in a small to medium enterprise can be extremely valuable experience. Smaller businesses can offer more opportunities for you to get involved with working across several departments, helping you to understand how a business is run.
Work shadowing involves following or shadowing a professional for anything from a day to a few weeks, and is 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. Use personal contacts or send a CV to organisations of interest to you, asking for a work shadowing opportunity.
Summer research opportunities
A number of organisations in Ireland (e.g. Health Research Board) and the UK (e.g. Genetics Society and the Society for General Microbiology) support active research participation by undergraduate students. You could also approach academics from your area of interest, both in Trinity and in other universities, and ask if they have any summer research positions available. These are often not advertised, so being proactive and asking the question could lead to research opportunities.
Voluntary work is unpaid but can involve greater variety and responsibility than a paid job. It is a great way of getting valuable experience in the workplace and building up critical skills relevant to any job such as professionalism, customer service and organisational skills. There are 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 if the opportunities are located overseas.