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Gaining experience

Charity and Third Sector

Competition for jobs in this sector is fierce and work experience could be the deciding factor in securing a graduate job. Undertaking work experience is invaluable in developing expertise and the all-important transferable skills, which will help you demonstrate your motivation and commitment to this area of work.

However, finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through our website.


Types of Opportunities

Below are some examples of the different types of opportunities to gain experience while you study.

Building up your volunteering hours while you study is ideal in demonstrating your commitment to the industry. You can support community initiatives, volunteer at one-off events or work on an ongoing project with a local not-for-profit. Seize any opportunity to get involved in local community projects to help you develop your work experience. Our Volunteering Bank provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. 

You can also get involved in relevant university projects through the different groups and societies via the Student Union. This is a good way of demonstrating your motivation and interest in this area of work.

Please be aware that some international volunteering opportunities may have costs attached so it is important to check all details thoroughly. 

Learn more about our Volunteering Team

Placements will give you a long-term look at an organisation, and help you to build contacts and experience.

On some degrees, work placements are part of the programme, whilst on others you can choose to complete a placement as one of your modules. Should you choose to undertake either your first point of contact is your placement office in your Faculty.

Learn more about taking a placement 


You can also choose to take a Self-Employed Placement. This allows you to work for yourself during your placement year and receive support from the University's Student Startup Team. You will have access to funding opportunities, networking events and workshops.

Learn more about Self-Employed Placements

Many larger charities and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) offer internships, open days and taster experiences. The charities and NGOs offering internships, listed below, will give you an idea of the opportunities that may be available; you will need to do thorough research to identify further specific opportunities:


Create your own experience

You can consider developing your own experience. The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and seek support from the Careers and Employability Service where needed.


Starting your own social enterprise 

If you have a practical idea of how to help your community, protect your local environment or solve a problem in society then setting up a social enterprise might be a great way of showing your proactive and charitable attributes. A social enterprise is the ability to do good through doing business rather than through charitable donations, for more information make an appointment to talk to our student startup team.


Getting involved in online activism

There are conflicting views on the efficacy of online activism with Forbes, the Independent and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs being some of the many voices discussing its virtue. If used in a considered manner then online activism can be an effective way to gain experience in campaigning for change, whether you start an online petition for a particular issue, write a blog series to raise awareness of a cause or organise and build a movement.



Tips for success when looking for experience

  • Research charities and NGOs offering summer internships, vacation placements, taster experiences or volunteering opportunities.
  • Explore the various areas within the charity and not-for-profit sector before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain the relevant skills.
  • Get involved in University extra curricular activities related to your interests such as with the Students' Union or with University clubs or societies; here you can develop transferable skills and experience such as communication and teamwork.
  • Create a Linkedin profile to network with sector employers - see our Networking and Social Media section for further guidance.
  • Speak to your tutor or other members of Faculty staff to identify potential networking or research opportunities that could lead to work experience.
  • Make the most of opportunities to meet sector professionals at events both within the university and externally to build your network of contacts.
  • Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a cover letter focusing on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.


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