Students working at a computer

Gaining experience

Computing and IT

Competition for jobs in Computing and IT is fierce and work experience could be the deciding factor in securing a job within the sector. Not only will you gain an understanding of the type of work undertaken and the various roles, but you will also have the chance to develop a network of contacts for the future.


Types of Opportunities

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

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 Placement

An internship is usually a work experience opportunity that is offered for a fixed period or a limited amount of time. Internships tend to be undertaken by students and graduates who are looking to gain more relevant/industry-specific skills and experience in their particular field.

These opportunities can be paid for a period of between one to four months and typically take place over the summer, with closing dates generally around January to March, but some can be earlier.

Getting involved in volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop employability skills and experience a variety of working environments to assist you in discovering the right career path for you. It provides the chance to network, meet new friends and boost your confidence.

Volunteering also enables you to gain practical experience and working examples to support your graduate applications. If you choose to commit a significant amount of time and impress the organisation during your volunteering, they may also provide you with a professional reference.


Volunteer to get practical experience

Approaching local organisations, charities or community groups who would benefit from your skills is one way of gaining that all-important experience. The competencies developed will be invaluable and enhance any speculative applications you make.

The Careers and Employability Service offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank, which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly, you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Careers and Employability Centre.

Examples of computing and IT-related roles that the Volunteering Team have previously advertised and recruited for include:

  • Computer Club Volunteer with Personal Choice – assisting members with developing their general computer skills, including using Microsoft software packages, internet security and online safety basics.
  • Online Operator Volunteer with Rowans Hospice – supporting the Online Sales Manager to post fundraising items online; enhancing skills in e-commerce and gaining experience of income generation.
  • App Developer Volunteer with Pompey in the Community – working alongside Play More Pompey and the Web Design company – One2Create – to develop apps for iOS and Android to increase community engagement in events and football sessions.
  • Lead Computer Tutor Volunteer with Citizens Advice Gosport – overseeing the delivery of computer workshops for members of the public and training and guiding Volunteer Assistant Tutors to develop the workshop courses following evaluation of the training.
  • Code Club Leader with Code Club – running a weekly coding session with other volunteers for children aged 9 to 11 years old to deliver games, animations and websites, including developing skills in Scratch, HTML, CSS and Python.
  • STEM Ambassador – supporting a local school or community youth group by helping to inspire young people to make the most of their talents and pursue careers in STEM.

These opportunities will provide you with invaluable experience and an opportunity to develop and enhance multiple transferable skills that you will be able to discuss as part of future applications.

If you have any questions regarding the volunteering opportunities available to you in Portsmouth then please contact the Volunteering Team on email


Finding opportunities

The websites below provide further information about placement and internship opportunities across computing and IT:

  • MyCareer – the Careers and Employability Service's online jobs board can be used to search for internships, work experience and summer opportunities across sectors and locations.
  • RateMyPlacement – offers information on placements, internships, insights and work experience jobs with a range of IT companies in the UK.
  • Gradcracker – as the UK’s careers website for Technology students, Gradcracker provides a search function for placements and internships relevant to your degree discipline.
  • TARGETjobs – provides a specific section on different career sectors, with the ability to search for placement and internship opportunities in IT and technology.
  • Prospects – has its own search tool for work experience opportunities across sectors, including information technology.
  • Milkround – provides a search tool for internships and industrial placements across sectors, including IT and related business support roles.


Placement Students Photos - Alan Johann Mayer

Consider speculative applications

When you approach an employer directly, you send them a speculative application. Speculative applications involve sending a CV and cover letter to an employer to ask if they can offer any work experience, even if the company is not currently advertising placements or internships.

Submitting a speculative application shows your interest in a specific company and your willingness to go above and beyond to develop your skills and understanding of the industry. 

Learn how to send a speculative application


Tips for success when looking for experience

Consider your requirements

Initially, it is important to identify whether or not there is specific experience you wish to gain within computing or information technology or could your search be broader where you are looking to gain transferable skills?

Some key considerations for your search may include:

  • Are you looking for experience that relates to a specific unit you are taking as part of your university course?
  • What are your career goals and aspirations? How might the opportunity help you work towards these?
  • Are there any gaps in your skillset that need to be addressed? How might an opportunity enable you to fill this gap?
  • What is the time commitment and location of the role? Does this fit in with your plans and other commitments during term time or over the summer period?
  • What type of organisation would you like to gain experience with? A bigger national or multinational company? A small to medium-sized enterprise, charity of not-for-profit organisation?

Make sure you carry out thorough research

Explore the various areas within computing and information technology before you apply for work experience. Are you interested in working with applications, analysis or data? Do you have a specific goal to work on web design or development? Does consultancy or management appeal to you? As a starting point take a look at the job profiles included on the Prospects website to consider the type of work experience recommended and the skills you will need to develop to enhance graduate applications to specific roles.

Be proactive

Use your initiative and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively – send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.

Create a positive online presence

Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers – see our ‘Networking with Social Media’ section for further guidance.


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