How to get work experience in IT and technology
Work experience, internships and placements in IT improve your ability to get a graduate job in the sector. Having a computer science degree doesn’t give you a free ticket to a technology graduate scheme or job – you need to seek out other opportunities to build up you technical, commercial and workplace experience.
What types of IT work experience are there?
The two main types of work experience in IT are summer internships and placement years (also known as industrial placements and sandwich placements). Find out more about industrial placements and how to track them down.
These opportunities are advertised by employers in a wide range of industries. They include:
- software companies
- telecoms companies
- professional services and accountancy firms
- banks and investment companies
- engineering and construction firms
- technology consultancies
- consumer goods companies
- logistics companies
- retailers and supermarkets
Insight weeks are another type of opportunity, typically offered by employers in banking, finance and professional services to students in their first and second years.
Find out some of the employers offering internships and placements in IT.
Who can apply for work experience in IT?
While some employers need you to be studying computer science, software engineering or a STEM subject, not all do – some opportunities are open to all degree subjects, as long as you can demonstrate your passion for technology.
Industrial placements in IT tend to be advertised to students in the penultimate year of their course, for them to take a year out before their final year.
It’s similar for summer internships, although a few more employers allow you to apply whatever year you are in, and sometimes if you have already graduated.
When do you need to apply for work experience in IT?
Many internships and placements in IT are advertised in the autumn and it is best to apply to the ones you are interested in as soon as you can – if a lot of good applications are made then the employer may close applications before its stated deadline. Deadlines tend to fall around Christmas and new year. Don’t panic if you’ve left it until the new year though as, in recent years, a lot of opportunities have still been advertised in the spring.
How do employers recruit their interns in IT?
The application and selection process is similar to what you can expect when applying for graduate jobs. The biggest employers are likely to ask you for a CV as well as answers in an online application form about why you are applying and how you fit what they are looking for. If you are successful then there may be online tests to complete, a video interview and a face-to-face interview or assessment day. Not all employers will recruit using all of these stages. Small- and medium-sized employers tend to use fewer stages, as do software companies.
What are the alternatives to work experience?
In reality, not everyone manages to get work experience. If you don’t, you could try to find a shorter, less formal opportunity such as work shadowing. Get inspiration for what to do if you can’t find work experience in IT and how to use extracurricular activities to give your technical skills a boost.