Finding jobs, placements and work experience

Creative job searching

The Careers Service is the place to get information about jobs and work experience including:

  • jobs for graduates
  • student placements
  • part-time and vacation work
  • voluntary work
  • and ‘taster’ sessions for initial experience

For hundreds of opportunities, including graduate jobs, placements, part time work and more, search Career Connect (available within MUSE if you are a student, recent graduates will need to register)

If you’re not sure about the type of work or career you want, our section Understand yourself and your options explains how to figure out what could be right for you. Once you know what you want, you can then find out when and where to look.

Jobs for graduates and student placements

It’s important to understand how the jobs market works for student placements and graduate jobs.

Many of the largest employers run training schemes with graduate jobs and student placements. Lots of these schemes begin to recruit a year before they start, opening up for applications from the summer onwards. Closing dates can be Christmas or even earlier, so you should start looking early if you want this kind of opportunity. Some employers don’t have a closing date but will stop recruiting as soon as the positions are filled, while others recruit throughout the year.

However, training schemes like these are only a fraction of the opportunities available and the majority of students get jobs or placements outside of such programmes, often with smaller or medium sized organisations. Many employers in this category advertise in the second half of the academic year, or as and when a vacancy occurs.

Looking to work outside your home country?
Our International careers resources cover lots of countries around the world.

International student wanting to work in the UK?
See our advice on working in the UK during your studies, or after you graduate. 

Where to look

There’s a variety of ways to find adverts for jobs and placements

  • Careers websites for graduates and students
  • Companies’ own websites
  • Social media including LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Specialist jobsites and recruitment agencies

Websites aimed at university students list lots of opportunities, including most of the major graduate/placement schemes. Most jobs on the following sites are in the UK but they also include many opportunities in other countries.

Besides Career Connect, the main sites include:

Additional sites for student placements include:

Specialist jobsites and recruitment agencies

Sites like the above are useful but tend to be dominated by large organisations in certain sectors, e.g. engineering, finance, law, I.T. and business management. But you can also find jobs on alternative websites which specialise in particular careers. These sites are often less well-known than the graduate websites and feature a wider range of employers which can mean less competition for the jobs.

Our Information resources - Occupations has links to many specialist sites and recruitment agencies.

There are also regional jobsites such as Yorkshire graduates, and graduate internship programmes such as the RISE programme in Sheffield, advertised on Career Connect.

Part-time jobs and vacation work

Part-time work is an excellent way to earn some money and add to your skills. If you want advice about looking for a part-time job, be sure to use our Student Jobshop

Student jobs are advertised throughout the year, although the Part-time Jobs and Volunteering Fair at the start of semester one is a great time to meet local organisations recruiting students. There are part-time jobs in most industry sectors across the Sheffield area, with work in shops, restaurants and bars being the most common.

Vacation work in Sheffield can be harder to come by, and for Christmas jobs in particular, employers recruit well in advance, so start your search early and look as widely as possible.

Where to look

Besides using Career Connect and the Student Jobshop, there are other ways to gain great paid experience:

  • On CampUS Placements – student projects based in University departments 
  • The Students’ Union and the University have part-time work, from jobs in campus bars and catering outlets to admin roles in offices
  • Look out for adverts in windows of shops and bars
  • Check the websites and social media of local companies
  • Newspapers and jobsites in the Sheffield area
  • Friends, family, tutors - make sure everyone you know is aware you are looking for work. Many jobs come from personal recommendations
  • Previous employers - if you worked for a national company before university, you may be able to transfer to their Sheffield branch if they have one
  • Recruitment Agencies

Speculative applications - how to find 'hidden jobs'

Not all organisations advertise their vacancies – they may recruit from speculative applications, and the way to do this is to find and contact employers, and ask about opportunities.

Finding employers

Speculative applications are more likely to work if you come across as well-informed and interested, so you need to research the type of work and the potential employers before you make contact with them.

Start by looking at job profiles which describe the kinds of work that interest you:

You can use business directories to find details of employers such as location, size, and what they do.

Making contact

Contacting employers involves more than simply asking about jobs. Ask for information and advice to demonstrate your interest and develop your knowledge. This insight means you are more likely to succeed when asking about actual vacancies.

Possible approaches:

  • Ask for information about working in their industry and the routes in. Explain what appeals to you about it.
  • Ask if you can work shadow someone for a day to see what the job involves, or ask about short term work experience.
  • Follow up and develop your contacts. Talk to as many people as you can to add to your network.
  • Read our guide to social media and your career to create a professional online profile and connect to people and organisations, e.g. on LinkedIn.
  • Email them a CV and covering letter to ask about jobs or work experience and phone them a few days later to see if they can help.

Speculative applications have to be well informed and persuasive, tailored towards your chosen type of work and employer. Not all succeed and you often need to be persistent, but many people do get jobs, experience or work shadowing this way. It is well worth trying, especially in sectors with relatively few advertised vacancies e.g. media, arts administration, publishing.

Market yourself positively and try not to be put off by rejections.


Volunteering is a great way to gain skills, particularly if you haven’t worked before or want experience in a sector where there is little paid work available. It’s also flexible as you may volunteer for a day, a week or longer, including evenings or weekends. Employers are positive about voluntary work as it shows you are willing to give something back to your community.

Note: a genuine voluntary role means there should be no contract or expectation about the hours you work. If there are set hours or a specific job description, you may be a ‘worker’ rather than a ‘volunteer’ and eligible for the National Minimum Wage.

Opportunities exist with a wide range of organisations and all major towns and cities have opportunities.

A good starting point locally is: