Make work experience work for you

Think that work experience is a waste of time and money? Think again. Although it can feel like a gamble – lots of hard work with no guaranteed return – in reality this is rarely the case; a well-sourced work placement really can kick-start your career.

We’ve spoken to dozens of graduates over the past 12 months about how they started out in the world of work, and one of the most interesting trends to emerge is the fact that, for the majority of them, work experience or internships played a vital part in securing that all-important first graduate job.

A business studies and marketing graduate now working in marketing undertook a two-month placement at Associated Newspapers through the FÁS Work Placement Programme in 2010. He directly credits the FÁS placement with helping him to find his job:

‘I’ve just started a permanent role as an account manager with a marketing sales company in Dublin. My work placement definitely helped me to secure my position: I gained buckets of experience that put me in good stead for this job; before the placement I was going to interviews with nothing to show for.’

A software engineer at IBM has a similar story. After a period of unemployment he undertook an 11-month work placement at IBM as part of the WAM work experience programme organised by AHEAD. ‘It was a genuine opportunity to get real work experience and responsibility…being offered a permanent position at the end of it was undoubtedly the highlight of the year for me.’

And a Dublin-based design engineer who did an internship between his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees was offered a job at the company where he’d interned once he’d finished his studies. ‘In some ways my internship functioned as a three-month interview: I’m certain I got my job because of it.’

Get more work experience tips at and search for work experience vacancies at

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