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Employers have high expectations of new graduates. As well as a good degree, they need evidence of skills gained and that you have the attitude to 'hit the ground running' and contribute straight away. There are loads of things you can do while at University to develop your skills (or competencies as they are often called) and add to your network of contacts. Take a look at the expandables below.

Other things you can do include being a student rep for your course, a student mentor, or a student ambassador; Joining or setting up Students’ Union club or society; join the professional body for your subject and attend networking events and student conferences.

When it comes to searching for jobs, there are many sites online and it may feel overwhelming at times. The key to success is to stay focused, do lots of research, and if necessary, think outside the box. Use your networks too, as people you know can be a great source of information. It is also worth approaching employers speculatively. They may just know about a vacancy or can signpost you to someone who does!

You can search a wide range of opportunities on My Career Enriched, your career hub.

To help you plan your time at University, TargetJobs have produced an ‘Internships and Work Experience Calendar’ to identify what you should be doing at key points throughout your first and second year of study.

Remember! Once you have found your dream job make sure you ace your application – check out our information about CVs and Applications

  • Finding job vacancies

    A good starting point is My Career Enriched, your career hub. Here you can search for current vacancies, placements and other opportunities as well as sign up for alerts when new, (relevant) vacancies are posted.

    Want to work at the University of Cumbria? All jobs at the university are advertised at: and you can also register for vacancy alerts.

    Job sites with links to local vacancies:

    General (nationwide) online job boards: 

    Note: For specific graduate jobs, see section below on ‘Finding graduate jobs’

    What is the hidden job market? 

    Many employers, particularly smaller companies, prefer to recruit via word of mouth. It is estimated that at least 70% jobs are recruited via the hidden job market. Here are some useful articles on how to find opportunities within the hidden job market:

    What is networking and how can I use it in my job search?

    Networking is about sharing information and can be an effective way to get a job, find out more about a particular career and build up useful contacts. There is some good advice online about networking for job seeking purposes. Check these out:

    Can I use social media in my job search? 

    Using social media as part of your job searching strategy can prove to be highly effective. The following articles explain why and provide useful tips. Don’t forget that employers will also use social media, particularly during the interview process to ‘check out’ their candidates, so make sure your online profile is professional, and that there are no discrepancies between your CV and what might appear online. 

  • Finding Graduate jobs

    Visit My Career Enriched, your career hub, to search for graduate jobs.

    Many employers seek graduates with a good degree (usually a 2.2 or higher), and over 80% of graduate employers don’t have a preference for the subject studied. These are some of the areas you could consider where a specific degree subject is not a pre-requisite. Some of these sectors will involve further study or training:

    • Administration 
    • Civil Service and Local government
    • Law
    • Human Resources
    • Recruitment
    • Banking, Accountancy and Finance
    • Insurance
    • Hospitality
    • Events management
    • Public Relations and Marketing
    • Sales and retail
    • Advertising
    • Charity and voluntary work
    • Tourism
    • Politics


    Useful links: General advice for the graduate job seeker:


    Sector specific advice:

    If you wish to work in a particular sector, there is likely to be a professional association who are worth contacting for advice (e.g. Royal College of Nursing, Royal Forestry Society, British Association of Social Work). Their websites often have a careers and jobs page containing information and advice about finding and applying for jobs in that sector. If you are considering a career in Law, there is a useful training contacts page from


    Equality, Diversion and Inclusion

    Students may have specific concerns about job seeking and career planning; for example, how to disclose their disability or sexuality, whether their age, background or qualifications will be a barrier, so we have put together a range of information which we hope will help you. You can find this under the section 'Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

  • Graduate Schemes

    A graduate scheme is a structured form of paid on-the job training and development. Employers across a range of sectors offer such schemes enabling recent graduates to gain practical experience of different areas of their organisation. Graduate schemes vary in length but are typically between 1-3 years. More often than not, the graduate trainee will continue working for the company once the scheme has finished. Graduate schemes can be competitive, and whilst many have rolling deadlines, applications for some schemes open in the autumn term.

    Visit My Career Enriched, your career hub, to search for graduate schemes.

    For more information on how to find a graduate scheme:

    You can watch this webinar from Reed all about Graduate Schemes:


  • Finding volunteering opportunities

    Volunteering is any activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the community, environment or individuals who are not related to you. Volunteering can also help you:

    • boost your CV with real work/life experience
    • gain valuable transferable skills such as communication, team work, time management, organisation and decision making
    • build confidence
    • give real life examples at interview
    • explore different areas of work
    • expand your network of contacts
    • Join the panel and become an elected student representative.

    You can register as a USCU volunteer.

    You can find volunteering opportunities on My Career Enriched your career hub and receive regular bulletins with new opportunities. 

    You can choose to volunteer abroad as well as in the UK.  

    The Turing Scheme has funding available for students at the University of Cumbria. It offers students the chance to volunteer abroad and offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for personal and professional development with grants to help cover travel and accommodation.  

    For more Information on opportunities and funding options for overseas volunteering, such as the Eleanor Peel trust check out the UCSU website. 

    Other useful links for volunteering include: 

    You can also gain recognition for your volunteering through UCSU and through the Career Ahead award!

  • Finding Work Experience

    What is work experience? At school you probably did a week or two of ‘work experience’ where you went into a company for a week to see how it worked and find out what it would be like to work there. This type of work experience is called work shadowing and is just one way of gaining an insight into a company or job sector.

    Other options include internships (see separate section below), gap years, industrial placements, insight programmes, competitions, freelance work, open days and volunteering (see section above). There’s a great guide on TargetJobs with information about each of these types of work experience.

    Some big companies have work experience schemes, which are often highly competitive, such as the BBC and Sky. Find work experience schemes for first years at student ladder.

    Find out more about work experience on

  • Finding part-time, seasonal and casual work

    We recommend that you visit My Career Enriched to search for current vacancies, placements and other opportunities. You can also ask to be notified of vacancies that you may be interested in by email. 

    Working at the University of Cumbria

    All vacancies at the University of Cumbria are advertised at - you can also register to be notified when new vacancies are posted.

    Part time opportunities

    We have produced this handy guide to help you find the work you are looking for, including advice on minimum wage, paying tax, international students and volunteering: Finding Part-Time Work (PDF)


    Christmas vacancies

    Soon after the start of the academic year Christmas vacancies start to be advertised. Shops usually advertise from September/October and catering and bar work from November. Employers may need you to work for the busy period right up to Christmas and New Year, so will check your availability before offering you work. Some employers offer a student transfer, so you can continue working at a different branch if you go home over the holiday period.

  • Finding Internships

    Internships provide invaluable insights into specific roles and industries; they will help you determine whether a job is right for you, while also helping you gain transferrable skills that would look great to employers on your CV and in applications.

    Internships can last from a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on the sector and the employer. If you are to have set hours, duties, responsibilities and if you are classed as a worker for the organisation, you should receive National Minimum Wage for your internship. Take a look at a guide to internships from Inspiring Interns to find out more about being paid fairly for your internship.

    Completing an internship will:

    • increase your skills and knowledge.
    • improve your understanding of a particular job or industry.
    • show you other roles you may not have previously considered.
    • help you to gain an insight into the way organisations operate and the challenges they face.
    • provide you with networking opportunities.
    • give you and the employer a chance to 'try before you buy' and clarify whether this type of work is really for you.

    And as a bonus you might also get:

    • subsidised travel or lunches.
    • attendance at in-company training courses.
    • a supervisor who might be able to act as a referee for you in future job applications.

    For more information on internships and where to find suitable opportunities check out the following links:

  • Internships at UoC

    Paid internship opportunities within our Research and Knowledge Exchange department are advertised on our current vacancies section of the website. 

    These offer flexible hours and work locations that can fit around studies. You will gain valuable work experience with Cumbrian companies, which can develop transferable skills and enhance employability.

    If you are interested in signing up for notifications of our internship opportunities please complete this form:

    Recent Internship opportunities have included projects with: 

    Cumbria Innovations Platform (CUSP) which aims to help Cumbrian businesses drive forward Innovation; this may relate to new products or new service development. 

    ECO Innovation Cumbria (EIC) which aims to help Cumbrian businesses research new ways of working, develop improved or new products, services and/or processes, with an aim to reduce greenhouse gases.  

    Project examples include: 

    • New product development of portable eco-garden modules for urban environments. 
    • Development of a digital training portal to extend support services to customers.
    • Research into purchasing behaviour of international visitors to shape new product and service development. 
    • Researching the viability of using natural wool dyes over synthetic alternatives for use in the production of rugs and home furnishings. 
    • Recycling and ‘repurposing’ of business waste material to make new products for sale. 
    • Development, analysis and testing of new products i.e. skin care, dietary supplements, and food items. 
    • Research into replacing plastic compost bags with sustainable alternative. 
    • Research into the effectiveness of health and wellbeing services to support child development and to support the development of new services and products.
    • Research electric vehicle charging network.
    • Benchmarking plant downtime in construction sector.
    • Develop biodiversity of woodland.
    • Develop environmental education material. 

    Projects offer you the opportunity to earn up to £1,330 for 20 days work.  The 20 days can be worked flexibly, and part time and you can work on campus providing you agree this with the business. 

    Key Benefits and Features: 

    • You will be paid £9.50 per hour for projects up to 140 hours (around 20 days)– approx. £1,330.
    • Projects vary; depending on the project you might work remotely from home or a campus base, there could be some fieldwork, or work on company premises. 
    • Projects are flexible and can be designed to fit in with student study requirements; they typically run over 3 or 4 months, but this will vary. 
    • Some travel/other expenses paid. 
    • You will gain invaluable transferable skills that will help you stand out when you apply for the future job that you want. 
    • There will be academic and business support. 
    • Talk a project through before applying with a project manager.      


    Sarah Allison, Senior Project Officer, Cumbria Innovations Platform (CUSP) 





    Michael Siddall, Senior Project Officer, Eco-Innovations North West 



  • Finding Placements

    For some courses, placements are a key component and are organised for you. For others it is up to you to arrange a suitable placement. For advice on organising your work placement, you can contact the careers team.  If not part of your course, placements will have to be undertaken around your studies. With this in mind, it is often best to complete a placement during the holidays when you have time away from University.

    Doing a work placement will:

    • clarify your career goals.
    • give you an insight into the way organisations operate and the challenges they face.
    • increase your skills and knowledge.
    • provide you with networking opportunities.
    • help you to understand a particular job or industry.

    For more information on work placements and where to find suitable opportunities check out the following links:

  • Finding experience if you have a disability or health condition

    Many students with a disability or health condition, have concerns about finding work experience, placements, internships and graduate roles.

    The Careers & Employability Service can offer additional support and can provide information, advice and guidance on accessing disability confident employers and voluntary organisations, disclosing your disability, and requesting reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process and beyond.

    My Career Enriched your career hub has a “Pathways” section with self-directed learning.  My Plus: Applying to roles with a Disability is specifically designed for anyone with a disability and includes advice and guidance on applying to roles; communicating your strengths; disclosing your disability and creating an openness statement. 

    If you feel a chat with a careers advisor would be useful, you can book an appointment on My Career Enriched. Remember we are here to help throughout your studies and for up to 3 years after you graduate.

    Useful links

  • Finding opportunities using your network

    "The key to building a good network is to know why you need it. Having a clear objective is the best way to start networking. Your objective could be to help you find a job in a particular sector or it could be to learn more about a particular career." 

    Redmond, P. (2010) The Graduate Jobs Formula: How to land your dream career. Richmond: Trotman. Page 203.

    What is Networking?

    Networking is all about forming relationships that can support you in your career. It can be formal or informal, ranging from conversations at organised networking events, to meeting people on your course or at a student society. 

    It's important to network both online and "in real life" - this way you get the best results! When you meet someone at an event that you would like to have in your network, add them on LinkedIn and follow up with an email, asking to meet with them to talk further.

    Use your networks! For example - connect with all of the other students on your course – you never know what Jim will be doing in three years. Maybe Sue will land a job with your dream employer – you can get in touch and have a ‘stepping stone’ to get into the company.

    Download our Networking Skills Handout here. 

    Bright Futures Fund:

    The Bright Futures fund provides financial support to students at the University of Cumbria undertaking internships or work experience relevant to their future career. The aim of Bright Futures is to assist students in improving their personal and professional development by allowing them to take up critical experiences they may otherwise not be able to afford and providing life-changing experiences. 

    Find out more and apply here: Bright Futures


Bright Futures Fund:

The Bright Futures fund provides financial support to students at the University of Cumbria undertaking internships or work experience relevant to their future career. The aim of Bright Futures is to assist students in improving their personal and professional development by allowing them to take up critical experiences they may otherwise not be able to afford and providing life-changing experiences. 

Find out more and apply here: Bright Futures

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