How do I get work experience in the UK?
Work experience offers you the opportunity to not only develop your career skills but also experience the UK working culture.
Whether you want to secure an internship, explore part-time work or engage with one of our work experience schemes we have the information and advice to help you.
What does work experience mean?
Work experience is an umbrella term that can include the following:
- An internship: usually takes place over vacation periods, can be online and/or face-to-face, paid or unpaid
- A placement: usually assessed and part of a university degree such as a “year in industry” or other type of structured work experience. They tend to be longer than internships and can be online and/or face-to-face as well as paid or unpaid.
- Part-time work
- Volunteering and work shadowing
Any type of work experience is valuable and will allow you to develop essential employability skills. Find out more about the different types of opportunities on our website.
Can I undertake work experience on my student visa?
It is important that you understand what your visa allows you to do so that you can articulate this to an employer.
If you are enrolled on a full-time degree (and owning a Tier 4 student visa), you are allowed to work:
- Up to 20 hours per week during term time if you are studying a qualification at degree level or above
- Up to 10 hours per week during term time if you are studying for a qualification below degree level
- Full-time outside term time (all study levels included) which includes during vacations and before your degree starts, if you are enrolled on a year in industry degree and after your course has ended. For further information, contact our Visa and Immigration Team and visit the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website.
How can work experience in the UK benefit me?
Never underestimate the importance of your work experience. Any experience is valuable, even if unrelated to the sector or type of role you want to go into. Employers are interested in learning about the transferable skills that you will have developed.
Gaining experience in the UK will:
- help you stand out in the recruitment process when applying for graduate roles in the UK and beyond
- allow you to develop the skills and abilities that employers are looking for beyond your degree such as teamwork and communication
- provide you with examples and evidence to share in the recruitment process
- support you to develop your English language skills
- give you an insight into the UK working culture
- allow you to build your professional and personal network which may be valuable when it comes to applying for graduate roles
Never underestimate the importance of your work experience. Any experience is valuable, even if unrelated to the sector or type of role you want to go into. Employers are interested in learning about the transferable skills that you will have developed in your experiences.
International students: work experience showcase
At this event, we hosted four workshops and if you missed the event, you can listen to the recordings.
- Two UoN graduates talked about their work experience
- Two speakers from Student Circus talked about their job portal for international students
- A UoN immigration adviser gave essential advice about working in the UK
- A speaker from Forage talked about their job simulation programmes
Login to SharePoint to watch the webinar
- Alumni: Email us to gain access to the webinar
Will employers be interested in my work experience gained outside the UK?
Absolutely. Employers are keen to hear about any experience, whether in the UK or outside, as long as you make it relevant to what you are applying for.
Having worked abroad may even give you an advantage, focus on your unique skills and experience in the recruitment process!
You may want to talk about:
- How your cultural and global background gives you a different perspective and has allowed you to be more flexible and adaptable
- How your experiences may have helped you seeing a problem in a different way
- How learning English has developed your confidence and assertiveness in group settings.
If you are struggling to make sense of your experience, book an appointment with one of our advisers.
Is there a list of employers who offer internships to international students?
There is no ready-made list of opportunities so it will be up to you to research employers and opportunities.
You can explore our website to find out more about sources of vacancies in the UK and where to find work experience for the type of degree you are studying or the type of career you want to go into.
You can also explore Student Circus, a job listing service, which we subscribe to and is free to you. Student Circus advertises internships with UK companies that actively recruit international students. Also check out the webinar above about Student Circus to find out more.
Student Circus - internships and placements for international students
- The platform provides access to internships, placements and start-up internships.
- It also advertises graduate roles which meet the UK Visa and Immigration salary requirements for sponsorship.
- Frequently asked questions on the platform have been checked and verified for accuracy by an immigration expert.
Can I use an agency or paid service to help me get work experience?
In recent years we have seen a rise in the number of external organisations advertising themselves as experts in careers and employability advice, particularly around supporting students from specific countries. They often charge thousands of pounds for their services and we have received feedback that students often feel pressurised to pay for these services in order to secure a job.
Prior to entering into any agreement, we would advise you to contact us and check what support and resources are already available to you without charge.
If we aren’t providing a resource which you think would be useful, let us know and we will endeavour to provide it or a suitable alternative. If after doing your research you think you are getting something different or better from an external provider, you are free to make the decision to use them.
We are happy to discuss any support you are offered from an external provider to help you make an informed decision.
Don't I need a national insurance number to work in the UK? How do I get one?
You don’t need a National Insurance number to look for jobs, but once you are offered a post you must telephone the Contributions Agency on 0845 6000 643 to apply for it.
You will be invited to an interview held at your local Jobcentre Plus office. It usually takes about six to 12 weeks for your application to be processed, but you can still work during this time. Inform your employers as soon as you have been notified of your permanent National Insurance number.
To find out more, visit the government website
My advice to other students is to step outside your comfort zone and take a chance. Apply for internships, practice for the interviews, and then bring your full self to work. More often than not, we are hampered by our own thoughts. Therefore, it is important to give yourself opportunities to shine.
I think work experience is a valuable opportunity to polish communication skills in the British work context and enhance transferrable skills gained from the degree programme.