Placements and internships
A large part of your studies while at University will be about employability after your course. It's important to gain and develop key skills to make yourself more employable once you have graduated.
Work experience gives you real-life employability skills that are invaluable when applying for a job as a graduate. Employers expect a range of transferable skills when they recruit graduates, such as problem solving, analytical skills, team skills and commercial awareness. By taking action early you will be able to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs.
It's important to find out the type of work experience that's right for you. The work experience you choose could be paid or unpaid, formal or informal, long-term or short-term. It also depends on how much time you can spend in work experience.
Types of work experience
Doing a placement before you graduate is a great way to get long-term experience in a sector, or start your own business.
Many courses at the University of Portsmouth let you do a year's work placement, short term placements or a self-employed placement.
These provide excellent opportunities to gain high-level experience, an insight into a particular job role and make useful contacts. The experience looks good on your CV and a large number of students get graduate jobs with their placement employer.
You'll spend your placement working for an employer or setting up and working on your own business. It gives you the chance to experience what it's like working in your potential career and allows you to apply the knowledge and skills you've learned in your degree.
On some of our courses you can spend your placement year abroad. Speak to your Faculty Placement Office (below) to check if you're eligible. If your placement is in Europe, you can apply for funding from Erasmus+.
Benefits of doing a placement degree
As well as increasing your employment opportunities, doing a placement:
- Improves your knowledge of business practices and allow you to appreciate the importance of working relationships and their contribution to a company’s activities
- Develops your understanding of the national and international business environment
- Shows you that experience is as important as academic knowledge
- Develops your transferable and interpersonal skills such as team working, communication, problem-solving and commercial awareness
- Gives you a better understanding of your degree, helping you choose your modules in your final year of study and potentially improve your final degree classification
- Builds your confidence
- Helps you build a valuable professional network and meet new friends
- Gives you exciting new experiences – especially if you choose to live in another city or country
- Gives you an experience of your chosen industry so you can make informed decisions about your future career path
- Gives you the ability to talk more authoritatively about your experiences during future job interviews
- Consolidates your ideas for a dissertation or major project
- Introduces you to potential role models and mentors for your personal and professional development
When should you start looking?
You should start looking for placement opportunities early in your second year, but opportunities will be advertised throughout the year. The later you leave it, the harder it will be to find a placement.
Discover placement opportunities
Our placement offices can help you find a suitable placement or prepare for a self-employed placement year or short-term placement.. They'll also support you during your placement.
The University has many links with organisations and companies from various industries and backgrounds, and our placement offices can help with tasks such as:
- Keeping you updated about potential placement year jobs
- Helping you to identify suitable roles to apply for
- Putting together your CV, cover letters, application forms and portfolio
- Holding mock interviews and assessment centres, and application reviews and interview preparation
- Helping you meet potential employers at employability events
- Carrying out pre-placement checks such as occupational health checks, the disclosure and barring service (DBS) and the mandatory training framework
You can also get help with applying and interviewing for your placement from our Careers and Employability Service. It provides resources to help you locate potential placement providers, prepare applications and plan for placement interviews. The team can also support you if you choose a self-employed placement year.
Contact your placement office
Your first point of contact will be your placement office in your Faculty. Use the contact details below to find out about some of the specific placement opportunities available to you:
Faculty of Business and Law
Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 4055
Location: Richmond Building
Faculty of Technology
Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 6263
Location: Portland Building
Faculty of Humanities and Social Science
Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 6179
Location: Park Building
Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries
Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 5181
Location: Eldon Building
Faculty of Science
If you're looking to do a placement year, in the first instance speak with your tutor or the employability contact within your department or school.
Some faculties offer shorter placements. However, minimum placement opportunities vary between faculties. Talk to your placement office to find out the minimum placement length.
Finding your own placement
If you prefer, you can find your own placement as long as it meets the requirements of your course and is in a location approved by the University. If you're searching for your own placement, you'll still need to be in-touch with your placement office.
Organisations advertising on graduate websites are often larger companies and so competition is often higher. You should also consider small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as they may offer opportunities which might be less high-profile but a brilliant placement option. Students have previously secured roles through personal contacts or via professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Consider making speculative approaches. You can get more advice on making applications from the Careers and Employability Service and in our careers advice section.
On some courses, such as health and care professions courses, your course placement team chooses your placement for you.
In these cases, we select your placement to make sure you get the appropriate experiences to meet your learning and career development needs.
Online Placement Sources
The following general vacancy sources promote a wide range of placements. Register your interests and sign up for alerts if possible.
Check out the websites below, follow them on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, create one and follow specific organisations to get a feel for their business. You may get some insights into when they might be opening up placement opportunities as well as gaining an understanding of key issues facing the industry.
When you choose a placement year degree, you'll be registered on a placement module during the sandwich year. This is assessed by a portfolio of evidence.
Further information about placement years
Your portfolio could include some or all of the following items:
- Placement learning agreement between yourself and your employer
- Your placement diary
- Reflective analysis of your employing organisation and your personal development
- An updated version of your CV to showcase your additional experience
- Reference or final report from your placement provider
- A spoken presentation
The majority of placement year degrees also require you to do a minimum number of hours on placement, which is recorded and assessed as part of your overall progress.
This assessment information doesn't apply if you take a language year abroad. You can find out more about spending a year abroad in our study abroad section.
During your placement year you can do paid work, an internship or an unpaid voluntary role depending on your course and the type of experience you want.
The average salary for a 12-month paid placement is £16,500 – but your salary can range between the National Minimum Wage and substantially higher.
You can do an unpaid or voluntary placement where necessary. Unpaid placements can include work in:
- a hospital or lab
- a primary care trust in the UK
- a local authority or a voluntary organisation in the UK related to the care of children and young person’s health or welfare
- a prison or aftercare service in the UK
- unpaid research in a University in the UK or overseas
The cost of your sandwich year placement depends on the type and location of the placement you do. You'll need to give careful thought to living costs and how you'll support yourself financially.
Funding available through Student Finance England depends on the type of placement you choose. You may be able to receive living cost grants and loans.
If you do a placement in Europe, you can apply for Erasmus+ funding. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you’re a UK or EU student, you only pay 10% of your standard annual tuition fee.
We set tuition fees for international students at the start of each academic year.
Many companies now offer an internship scheme for students, as this is beneficial to both the organisation and the student employee. These internship schemes are usually offered by major graduate recruiters particularly in the business, finance, retail, law, engineering and IT sectors.
Opportunities generally offer paid work for between 1-4 months, usually taking place over the summer. Closing dates are generally around January/March but can be earlier.
If the career area you want to work in doesn’t offer an established internship scheme, or if you are keen to work for a local Small Medium Enterprise (SME), then read our advice on making your own internship.
Internship schemes and work experience opportunities
You can look for advertised internship and vacation schemes, a selection of useful jobsites are provided below:
- The Careers and Employability Service jobs board provides some vacation work experience opportunities. Get notified about new opportunities by setting your email preferences in your MyCareer profile.
- Graduate Prospects allows you to search for a range of opportunities, including internships and placements, by keyword and region.
- TARGETjobs also has a wealth of work experience schemes including internships by sector, searchable by region and duration.
- Rate My Placement is a great resource to see what internship schemes are highly rated by previous students.
- All About Careers is a major Jobs Board focused on internship opportunities.
- Student Ladder provides work experience opportunities for 16-24 year old students.
- Milkround provides information on hundreds of internships and work experience opportunities across the UK and Worldwide.
- JobisJob is a job search engine site which details national and international internship and work experience opportunities.
- W4MP provides career development opportunities for those looking for a job with an MP or in other areas of political activity.
- British Council runs and helps organise a series of internships around the world
- Graduate-jobs.com is a site aimed at promoting internships and work placement opportunities to students and graduates.
- Employ Ability is a site promoting opportunities for students and graduates with disabilities and dyslexia.
- Bright Network is a jobs board that provides internship opportunities
If you're looking for work experience in a specific job sector, you can find information in our in-depth guides to getting into your chosen career.
Erasmus+ incoming students
Many students who come to the UK on the Erasmus+ programme look for short-time placements while studying here. Short-time placements are available and are sometimes referred to as ‘internships’ or ‘work experience’ – please be aware that opportunities are often limited and very competitive. Many opportunities usually take place during the summer months and can have long application processes.
If you're an incoming Erasmus+ student looking to do paid work, you'll need to apply for a National Insurance (NI) number. This needs to be applied for early and advice on how to do this is available at the Careers and Employability Centre. However, if you're 3 months away from completing your course and returning to your home country, it's unlikely a NI number will be issued.
Make your own internship
If the advertised summer internship and work experience opportunities aren't right for you it's worth thinking about creating your own through speculatively approaching organisations. For further information on how to approach and apply to organisations speculatively. Please view our guide to speculative applications.
Where to find us:
Careers and Employability Service
University of Portsmouth
28 Guildhall Walk
Monday – Thursday: 8.30am–5.00pm and Friday: 8.30am–4.00pm
Get more guidance on jobs and work experience
Find part-time work locally to support your studies and find out what you should know about National Insurance and Income Tax.
Find and apply for volunteering opportunities to enhance your employability and get experience to add to your studies.
Find a graduate scheme or graduate job with help from our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy.