From education to employment

Students need support to gain ‘edge’ from summer work experience

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Prospects’ survey says graduates are struggling to land jobs

Many more students are undertaking internships than they have been in recent years, however they are struggling to make the most of the opportunity to boost job prospects, reports Prospects at Jisc.

Prospects runs the UK’s largest graduate careers website. Its survey of nearly 5,000 students found 75% had undertaken some form of work experience in the last year, compared with just 17% in 2021. 

While 56% of respondents to the Prospects survey said that they struggled to find jobs as they didn’t have the required work experience, the majority of these had actually done some form of work experience in the last 12 months (80%).

Students with work experience felt more prepared for work (69%) than those without (56%). The majority said it was useful for developing skills, improving job prospects and confirming career choices.

Similarly, Institute of Student Employers Student Development survey found 72% of employers said graduates with an internship had better skills and attitudes.

Chris Rea, a careers expert for Prospects at Jisc said:

“Students with work experience will have acquired lots of valuable transferable skills, even if their experience wasn’t directly related to the opportunities they were searching for. 

“Any kind of work experience will boost job prospects. It’s knowing how to apply it to job applications that helps land a job. Don’t worry if it isn’t in a chosen sector. Work experience is still an opportunity to develop generic skills that can often be taken for granted and it offers exposure to non-traditional companies and jobs students may never have considered.

“Students need support to gain the edge from work experience this summer. They would benefit from advice on how to demonstrate their transferable skills in job applications to open up the number of positions they can apply for. Careers services are an essential resource that all students must tap into.”

Tips for students

  • Keep a diary – logging what you’re doing and what you’ve learned while on your work experience will make it easier to apply further down the line.
  • Don’t overlook generic skills – all employers value communication, team work, time management and organisation.
  • List your best skills and attributes – add examples of how you used them on your work experience.
  • Work on your CV – ensure every bit of work is included from summer internships to part-time jobs and voluntary roles.
  • Challenges can be positive – consider what challenges you’ve overcome and how. Employers value problem solving and resilience, so turn them into a positive.

Career advice as well as the Job Match online career planning tool can be found at

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