What is a Placement Year? [and how to find one]

Have you been considering a year in industry or “sandwich year” as part of your degree? 

Whether you have heard of them and want to know more or you are already considering one, we will cover all you need to know in this article. 

So, what is a placement year? 

If you did work experience at secondary school or an internship while studying, either of these will give you some sense of the experience of a placement year.

During an internship or work experience, you are likely to be given some training and a taste of the working life of an industry. However, a work placement puts you in the heart of a company’s workings with a greater amount of responsibility.

If you choose to undertake a placement year you will be placed in a role that is very similar to a graduate-level job and will work similar hours to those you would expect in one. 

While you will likely have to apply for internships and positions are often competitive, a placement year is an agreement with a company to employ you for a year.

When do I do a placement year?

Placement years normally take place in your third year, often meaning three-year courses are extended to four years. 

After completing your second year, you work for an employer before returning to university for your final year of study. 

This means they normally run from July through to September of the next academic year as term starts again. However, the length can vary between nine and thirteen months.

You should also know that you remain a student at your university during your placement. You will generally be given one core assignment and progress reports to complete and normally have a placement tutor for these.

What are graduate employers looking for?

A recent study found that almost two-thirds of employers said that when reviewing applications, having experience is the most important asset for a candidate.

On top of this, the same study found that more than two-thirds of employers think candidates put too much emphasis on qualifications and not enough on experience.

Despite this, a large proportion of graduates will leave university with either limited experience of the world of work or no experience relevant to their degree.

Graduate employers are looking for evidence of key employability skills such as communication, teamwork, the ability to use initiative and more. Completing a placement year can help you to develop these skills.

Why might you want to do a placement as part of your course?

In light of research on recruiters’ views, doing a placement year means you will leave university with an automatic headstart on many other graduates. 

If you are still unsure about which job might suit you, a placement year can give you the chance to see up close whether you would enjoy the career path you are considering.

Another benefit is the ability to earn while you learn. You can expect to pay half your normal tuition fees for your placement year, although some universities don’t charge students on placement any fees. You can expect to be paid between £12,000 and £18,000. The average pay will vary based on the sector you work in. 

Additionally, many companies offer graduates positions on successfully completing their placement and may even offer to cover tuition fees for your final year.

The responsibility involved in the real risk and reward of employment can also be an exciting change from hypothetically discussing ideas and theories in a seminar or lecture hall. 

Placement years can also give an opportunity to spend a year abroad, learning about a different culture. For language students, in particular, this can help to develop skills they have been building at university.

How to organise a year in industry

One of the first steps to a year in industry should be contacting your tutor to look into any possible course requirements for placement opportunities.

When to apply for placement year opportunities

A lot of employers will start advertising their vacancies in the autumn term so it is a good idea to look around early in the year. 

Large graduate recruiters in particular tend to start recruitment early and it is worth checking deadlines if you have your heart set on a specific company. 

However, some employers will advertise placement opportunities until the end of September so you may still be able to do one if you decide to later in the year.

Some courses may also include a placement in which the organisation is allocated to you automatically. 

How to find a placement year opportunity

Many large corporations offer placement year opportunities to candidates who are in their penultimate year of study. 

Some examples include: JP Morgan, Unilever, PwC and more. 

Websites to help you to find a placement

Many SMEs also offer industrial placement programmes for undergraduate students, so do not dismiss these opportunities. 

Some undergraduate students decide to undertake a placement year abroad. An international placement will give you both valuable work experience and the opportunity to live in another country. 

Here are some websites to help you to find a placement year abroad:

Finding a placement year opportunity can be difficult. When looking for a placement, conduct research online and remember to use your network. 

Tip: follow the companies you are interested in on social media as they may advertise placement opportunities there. 

The application process for placement programmes 

Applying for a placement is quite similar to applying for a graduate scheme or a graduate job. The exact process will vary depending on the company but in general, you will need to:

  • Fill out an online application
  • Complete online tests 
  • Submit a video interview or complete a telephone interview
  • Attend an assessment centre or final stage interview

The process can be quite time-consuming. Aim to send off fewer high-quality applications rather than lots of low-quality ones.  

Tip: Be sure to tailor every placement application to the company that you are applying for. 

Building valuable employability skills 

While many of the skills graduate recruiters look for can be developed in your time at university, a year in industry can provide a useful chance to build these. Your placement experience will give you high-quality examples to use when making graduate scheme applications.

Skills you can develop include:

  • Successfully organising and working in a team
  • Giving clear and well-researched presentations
  • Project management
  • Negotiating with colleagues and clients 
  • Demonstrating efficient organisation

These skills are all part of your time at university.  However, honing them in the world of work will give a helping hand when the time comes to write covering letters and fill in job applications.

Check out our post on the most important skills for finding a job

Boosting employability

A year in industry will also give you a useful experience of interview processes and assessment centres for when you reach your final year. 

Application processes can take place over the course of months and require travel meaning you may miss some lectures. You should weigh this up in your decision but know that tutors will often be able to provide work to catch up.

You will also leave university with a further qualification, helping to boost your employability

Your supervisor for your placement could also act as a useful reference for job applications in the future. 

If you are particularly worried about getting a graduate job after university, completing a placement year will help you to discover your career path. 

Finally, a year in industry can also give an obvious boost to your network of contacts in industries you may want to work in.

Take a look at our post looking at whether your university is doing enough to help your job prospects

Overcoming possible issues 

You should know that some courses will not offer a placement year. However, discussing this with your course leader may be worth your time, as it is their goal for you to graduate with the best possible prospects. 

Some courses which have recently started to offer a year of practical training include:

  • Business Studies
  • Marketing
  • Pharmacology
  • Music

You may also wish to weigh up the experience of returning to university after some of your coursemates have graduated. 

This is worth thinking about but also know that with more and more university students going on to Master’s and other postgrad courses, it may be less of an issue than in the past.  

What is a placement: Summary

We hope you enjoyed this post on placement years! We strongly advise you to consider doing a placement year as part of your degree. The experience will significantly enhance your employability and help you to get a graduate-level job. 

What should you do once you find a placement? 

Once you’ve secured a placement, it is really important that you inform your university as soon as possible. 

They will guide you through the next steps. 


Here are some frequently asked questions related to placement years 

Are placement years worth it? 

If you are considering completing a placement as a part of your degree, you are probably wondering if it will be worth it. Whilst doing a placement year will mean that you will graduate a year later, there are many benefits to doing one. Perhaps the most significant benefit is the impact that it will have on your employability.  

Doing a placement year as part of your degree will also help you to get the most out of your time at university! Many people consider placement years to be worth it for that reason.  

Do you still get a student loan on a placement year? 

It is best to check with your university to see if you will be required to pay tuition fees during your placement year. You may be able to receive a maintenance loan or grant. 

5 tips for finding the perfect outfit for your office Christmas party

Your work Christmas party is a fantastic opportunity to get dressed up and have a great time with your colleagues but finding the perfect outfit can be a difficult feat. Here, Steve Cochrane, Managing Director of designer clothing retailer Psyche, shares his top tips for dressing for the office Christmas party this year.

The festive season is almost upon us! And, as everybody begins to get into the Christmas spirit, your company is sure to have announced their plans for the office Christmas party.

Whether you’re headed to a formal sit-down dinner or your employers want to make the most of the impressive company office space with a party in the office, you’ll want to be dressed to impress. 

Here, I will be sharing my tips for putting together a Christmas office party outfit that’ll get heads turning. 

1. Refer to your invite

Before you begin planning your outfit, it’ll be important to consider your Christmas party invite. Some employers will set a dress code which will be included on the invite, but if not, knowing the details of where you’re going can help you to plan the most suitable outfit.

After all, nobody wants to be the person who is blindingly obviously under- or over-dressed for the occasion. 

As well as the location, you should take the time of day into account. If your office Christmas party is going to take place during lunchtime, it probably isn’t appropriate to be dressed in your best suit or your most dazzling high heels.

So, pay attention to the details sent over by your employer, even if no dress code has been mentioned. 

Pair of Brown Leather Casual Shoes on Table

2. Dressing for a formal festive dinner

If your company are hosting a formal sit-down dinner to celebrate the end of a successful year working together, your outfit should match the setting. 

For posher occasions, men should consider a well-fitting blazer which is complemented by a crisp shirt and tailored trousers.

When it comes to footwear, dress shoes can nicely tie together your sophisticated aesthetic, but if the occasion is slightly more relaxed than this, a polished pair of brogues can have the same effect. Finish off your outfit with a designer belt and pair of cufflinks to add little touches of luxury to your look. 

For women, I’d suggest opting for a slightly longer cocktail dress than usual, perhaps in a midi style. Alternatively, a quality maxi dress will look beautiful and suit the occasion perfectly.

As you’ll be sat down, you can consider wearing higher heels than if the party involved a lot of dancing. However, if heels aren’t your style, a sparkling pair of ballet pumps can help to tie together your festive look. And, don’t forget a stunning bag to match your outfit.

A luxury clutch can perfect your look and will serve as an investment piece you’ll be able to wear time and time again. 

Black Framed Eyeglasses On White Jacket And Blue Denim Bottoms

3. Dressing for a lunchtime Christmas party

A lunchtime Christmas party is likely to be a more casual occasion than a formal sit-down meal, as it’s traditionally a more relaxed mealtime than dinner. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your outfit and dress to impress — just check the website of the place you’ll be eating to figure out the vibe before you plan your outfit. 

For both men and women, a quality, well-fitting pair of jeans teamed with a shirt or a blouse will look great and tick the unwritten smart-casual dress code that most lunch places have. If it’s a little chilly outside, you can even layer a stylish knitted jumper over the top to keep warm.

You can never go wrong with a leather jacket, and investing in a high-quality, designer one can certainly add to your look. 

Shoes can be tricky when dressing for a lunchtime Christmas party, as you want something comfortable and appropriate for the daytime, but nothing that’s too casual. For this reason, I’d advise against athleisure trainers, and instead suggest opting for fashion trainers that don’t look as sporty.

Alternatively, loafers or casual brogues can be a good option for men, while ballet pumps or court shoes with a smaller heel can nicely finish a woman’s outfit.

Woman Wearing Peach Dress and Black Jacket's Left Hand Closeup Photography

4. Dressing for an after-work pub party

Knowing what to pack for an after-work party can be unnerving, but when you’re just headed to the pub, it’s likely that you can go in some of your best casual wear. 

Men should stick with a quality pair of jeans and team it with a long-sleeved T-shirt or casual shirt along with some fashion trainers or brogues. Although your outfit should be a bit more pared down than it would be at a formal dinner, don’t let it put you off from wearing patterns and prints to show your personality. 

Similarly, women can wear jeans teamed with an embellished or satin top and some court shoes. However, if you’re looking to dress a tad smarter, a woollen skirt with tights with a polo neck tucked in can look great at this time of year.

For accessories, I’d suggest a mini shoulder bag to hold your essentials and add detail to your look — especially if you pick a statement one in a bold pattern. 

Pair of Brown Leather Wingtip Shoes Beside Gray Apparel on Wooden Surface

5. Dressing for an office party in the office

If your office party is actually being held in the office, you can wear whatever you’d like! However, as it’s your place of work, you may prefer to dress a little smarter.

For men, this can mean teaming a relaxed shirt with some tapered trousers and smart brogues, while women may choose to wear a midi-length dress with a smart jacket or cardigan over the top. 

No matter where your Christmas party is going to be held this year, you’re going to want to look the part. Follow my top tips for dressing to impress for the work’s office party and make it an evening to remember!

If you enjoyed this post, check out our post on ways to look more professional in your new job.

Looking for a new job in the new year?

Here at Graduate Coach, we have helped 500+ students, graduates and career changers to land their ideal jobs at great companies.

Feeling Sad after Interviews: Dealing with Post-Interview Blues

You’ve done brilliantly to get an interview with your dream company for a role that is seemingly perfect for you. You attended the interview and sent a great thank you email, but now you feel sad.

You’re dealing with a case of the post-interview blues. You really want to receive a call offering you the job, but you’ve started to question your interview performance and your candidacy as a whole. Self-doubt creeps in, and you start to wonder how you compare with the competition.

In this post, we will address why you may be feeling sad after interviews and share advice on what you can do to restore your confidence, boost your interview technique and generally feel a lot more positive.

Why you are feeling sad after an interview

There are many reasons why you could be feeling sad after interviews. Identifying what is making you feel this way is the first step to working out a solution. Here are some reasons why you might be feeling down.

You are struggling to bounce back after a bad job interview

We all have off days. It’s just incredibly frustrating when we feel ultra prepared for something but fail to perform when it really matters.

That feeling of letting yourself down and all that hard work going to waste can make you feel down in the dumps.

If you think your last interview went horribly wrong you might end up in a spiral of negative thought patterns. It can be difficult to bounce back when this happens.

Learning how to bounce back, learn from mistakes and improve is vital when it comes to navigating the job search.

You regret not saying something during your interview

Maybe you’ve just thought of a perfect answer to one of the questions you were asked during your interview. Instantly you start to regret that you didn’t give that response during the interview.

The feeling of missing out on an opportunity is bad enough but it can feel worse when you miss out on an opportunity despite knowing your stuff.

Regret is a horrible feeling because we can’t go back in time. The best way to overcome this feeling is to focus on the present and the future.

The good news is that there will be several more opportunities for you and there is always room for growth and development whether you get the job or not.

You’ve been to so many interviews without any success

Perhaps you keep failing job interviews and you are sick of it.

If you’ve been unsuccessful after interviews continuously, you may start to take it personally which can make you feel upset.

Noticing a pattern of getting rejected after interviews isn’t a nice feeling at all. However, it does give you the opportunity to seek the help you need to get the job you really want.

What to do if you are feeling sad after interviews

Feeling sad after an interview is a sign that you really want the opportunity and you are anxious about the outcome.

However, the fact that you are feeling sad may mean you feel as though you didn’t perform well enough or that your confidence level has taken a hit.

We will now share some practical advice to help you to feel better if you are feeling sad after an interview.

Feeling Sad after Interview

Continue your job search

The search isn’t over. Don’t wait to hear the outcome of your most recent interview. Regardless of what the outcome will be, you should keep looking. Who knows, you might even find something better.

Putting your focus and energy into searching for new opportunities will take your mind off of feeling sad about your last job interview and make you feel optimistic about your next one.

Embrace the process

Think of your job search as a journey. One of self-discovery and resilience. As with all journeys, you will face setbacks and hurdles. How you overcome them will shape you into a stronger person.

If you’ve been continuously failing job interviews, now is not the time to feel sad or pessimistic about your future. it’s time to pinpoint what is holding you back and formulate a plan to overcome it.

Maybe you’ve been applying for jobs that just aren’t right for you. Or perhaps you need to brush up your interview technique.

Persevere, and you will eventually get your dream job.

Improve your interview technique

Don’t feel down about your weaknesses. It’s not productive. If you are unhappy with your interview performance, take actions to improve.

Being able to perform highly in interviews is a lifelong skill that you should invest in.

The fastest way to improve your interview technique is to get help.

Take an online interview course

We have put together a 9 module course called Nail That Interview which is designed to help you to land your dream job.

As well as access to 9 key modules, you’ll also:

  • Receive 8 downloadable guides
  • Get a list of frequently asked interview questions
  • Have the opportunity to practise video interviews and get feedback

You can try module one for free! You will learn how to:

  • Convince the interviewer that you can do the job and that you really want it.
  • Demonstrate your key employability skills
  • Make the right impression
  • Ask the right questions at the end of your interview
  • Follow up after the interview

…and more!

Get interview coaching

Investing in an interview coach is a wise investment.

At Graduate Coach, our interview coaching programmes are designed to teach you the art and the science behind passing your interviews and getting the jobs you really want. 

Interview coaching is a short term investment for long term success. 

Chris Davies, Interview Coach

Feeling sad after interviews: summary

It is important to assess how we feel after interviewing.

A bad interview can make us feel sad or even depressed and a good one can make us feel elated.

However, once you’ve completed your interview and sent your thank-you note, the decision is in the company’s hands.

Therefore, there’s no point dwelling on the past and thinking of all the things you’ll miss out on if you don’t get the offer you are hoping for.

The best thing to do is to keep searching for new opportunities and to invest in improving your interview technique.

5 Ways to Boost your Online Presence as a Graduate

When you’re a recent graduate, the job hunt can be daunting, which is why social media can be a great start. Being visible online is a great way to boost your online presence and brand. Here, Chris Stappard, Managing Director of Edward Reed Recruitment, gives his top tips to help you boost your online profile as a graduate.

Social media is big part of modern life, but did you know it could help you out in your graduate job search? Not only will it give potential employers a chance to get to know you, but it can also help you to build connections and advertise your employability skills. But there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind when using social media during your job search, and I’ll be discussing them below.

Have separate professional and personal pages

Remember that recruiters and employers are going to be looking for someone that they’d like to represent their company, so posting those photos of your wild nights at university might not give off the best impression. Try to keep your professional accounts separate from your personal ones and remember to keep your personal account private. 

It’s often a good idea to keep different platforms for certain uses. LinkedIn was created to be a professional platform, but Instagram has very little use in job hunting. Twitter and Facebook can work for both professional and personal reasons, so you could consider creating two accounts on these platforms. And don’t forget your professional headshot to give a face to your profile.

Show off your desirable skillsets to boost your online presence

Social media is a chance for you to show off your qualifications and knowledge. As a rule of thumb, we usually recommend keeping your CV to one or two pages, but this can limit what you write, and you often end up writing a brief outline of only your most noteworthy achievements. But social media has no limits, so it gives you a chance to fill out your profile with every qualification, achievement, award and skill you’ve picked up. You’ve even got the option of adding external links to your profile, so don’t forget to link to your online portfolio or blog, too. 

It can also be a great idea to take a look at the profiles of other people in your industry to find what they’re putting on their profiles. There might be something on there that you’ve forgotten, or there might be a specific word or phrase that is making them more attractive to recruiters. Just remember to only add things if they’re true!

Don’t forget to showcase your personality

Recruiters and employers aren’t just looking for your valuable skills, but they’ll also want to make sure that your personality will be a good fit for the company. The downside of social media is that, with so many other pages showing the same thing, it can be easy to get lost in the sea of similar profiles. So, don’t be afraid to showcase a bit of your personality, too. 

This could be by adding a few of your favourite hobbies into your bio or telling the story of how you first became interested in the industry. Adding a dash of humour can help you to stand out, but within reason. Employers want to know that you’re respectable and trustworthy, so bear this in mind when posting things online.

Make connections in your industry

Another great thing about social media is that it not only lets you share your experience, but it also gives you the opportunity to reach out and make connections with other people in your industry. If you connect with people in companies and roles you’re interested in, they’re more likely to look to your profile if an opening comes up. Networking is a great way to boost your online presence.

Don’t forget to engage with these people as well. This way, you can develop professional relationships, as well as keep up to date with any industry news and show your dedication to your work. Plus, if you make great connections on LinkedIn, you’ve got the opportunity for people to offer a recommendation, which can give your profile more credibility. 

Get the most out of each platform

Different platforms have different benefits, but you should try to make the most out of each one in your job search. LinkedIn is a great place for people in a certain industry to connect and share industry news. It’s also a go-to place for recruiters and employers to look for potential candidates for a role and advertise their business.

Twitter is another great place to connect with businesses and share news in a more casual setting. However, it’s often more relevant for the creative industries that are less likely to use LinkedIn, like journalism and media roles. It’s also a great place for you to showcase any freelance work you do or share articles about interesting industry topics.

You may think Facebook should be reserved for friends, but the platform has unrolled a number of new features in recent years, many of which have gone unnoticed by users. For example, did you know Facebook has a job search? This lets employers advertise their open positions, and lets you find a job near you. You can even apply straight from your smartphone. 

How to boost your online presence: summary

Social media is a valuable tool for recruiters and employers, so you’ll need to develop your professional image online. But, when you’re fresh out of university, finding a job can be a difficult feat. By following the tips in this guide, you can create the perfect online presence to get your name out into the world and market yourself to potential employers.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post! If you are a student, graduate or career changer who is looking to land their dream job, find out more about our one-to-one career coaching.

Help for Graduates Looking for Work

Congratulations! You’ve earnt your degree and your time at university has come to an end. Since graduating, you’ve probably been thinking about your next steps and your graduate career. However, navigating your graduate job search can be stressful if you are unsure of your career path. In this post, we will provide help for graduates looking for work

Why graduates need help looking for work 

Most graduates have gone through their entire academic career without getting adequate careers advice. Even if you visited your university’s career service a few times, you may still find yourself struggling to find a job after university

The graduate job search is multi-faceted. There are many factors to take into consideration such as:

  • Working out what type of graduate job is right for you 
  • Identifying your employability skills 
  • Understanding what graduate employers are looking for
  • Assessing your work experiences 
  • Crafting an achievement-based graduate CV 
  • Optimising your Linkedin profile and other social media profiles
  • Writing effective cover letters 
  • Sending out high-quality job applications
  • Performing highly in interviews  

Many graduates are unaware that there is help available to help them to land their dream graduate job. 

Over the years we have helped hundreds of graduates who have come to us after realising that: 

Help for graduates looking for work 

Help for graduates looking for work

Here at Graduate Coach, we offer a wide range of services that are designed to help graduates looking for work. 

Here are some of the services we offer: 

Books for students and graduates 

The founder of Graduate Coach, Chris Davies wrote The Student Book and The Graduate Book

The Student Book outlines everything you need to know to get the job you really want. 

The Graduate Book outlines everything you need to know to do really well at work. 

These are must-read books for graduates who want to excel in their career. 

Interview coaching for students, graduates and career changers 

Interview coaching is a short-term investment for long-term success. Getting interview coaching early on in your career will equip you with a lifelong skill that will help you to stop missing out on great career opportunities. 

Whether you decide to apply for structured graduate schemes or graduate jobs, you will be required to perform highly during interviews. 

We also offer an online interview course called Nail That Interview. This course is divided into 9 modules and brings together all we have learnt from coaching graduates over the past decade. 

One-to-one career coaching for students and graduates 

We have created a 6-step career coaching program for graduates. Our one-to-one coaching program comes with a guarantee that we will help you to get the right graduate job. 

You will be supported through the entire graduate job search process from discovering your career path to nailing your interviews and getting an offer. 

Help for Graduates Looking for Work: Summary 

If you are a recent graduate who is struggling to land your first graduate-level job, seek help. 

Many graduates panic at the idea of being unemployed after uni and send out several low-quality applications with no success.  

This leads to several graduates feeling lost after graduation and some graduates even feel depressed after university due to not being able to get a job. 

Your graduate job hunt should be strategic and geared towards finding the right job, not just any job. 

We hope you have found this post outlining help for graduates looking for work useful. If you need help, do not hesitate to reach out to us

12 Legal Work Experience Ideas

Whether you are an aspiring solicitor or barrister, you want to boost your chances of entering the legal profession once you have graduated.

In this post, we will share 12 legal work experience ideas that will help your applications to stand out. 

1. Send out speculative applications to high street law firms 

Many aspiring lawyers focus solely on getting a place on a vacation scheme at larger firms. However, it is possible to get some valuable legal work experience at a smaller high street law firm. 

A speculative application is a request for work experience even though this opportunity has not been advertised. 

You may find success, sending out speculative applications as there will be less competition relative to vac scheme applications at larger firms. 

How to get work experience at a high street law firm

1: Research high street firms in your area  

2: Put together a spreadsheet with contact details for each firm 

3: Update your CV

4: Send out batches of emails to local firms requesting work experience and attach a copy of your CV 

You may need to send out several speculative applications for legal work experience until you are successful. 

Tip: If you don’t hear back, be sure to follow up via email or telephone. 

Once you have completed some work experience at a high street law firm, don’t forget to add this experience to your CV. 

Applying for work experience speculatively can be time-consuming, however, it is worth it if you manage to gain some valuable experience. 

2. Get some voluntary work in a legal setting 

Doing pro bono work will give you some hands-on experience with real legal cases. It is an excellent way to get legal work experience whilst helping people in need. 

Benefits of getting involved with pro bono work 

  • Develop practical legal skills such as interviewing clients and drafting letters 
  • Demonstrate legal research skills 
  • Expand your professional network
  • Explore different areas of law 
  • Add value to your training contract and pupillage applications 

How to get pro bono experience 

Check if your university has a pro bono centre as the first port of call. 

You can also check out the following organisations: 

Lawcareers.net have compiled a really handy list of pro bono and volunteering opportunities.   

Alternatively, you could volunteer at a court. Court volunteers provide reassurance and support for clients. 

Court volunteers support clients in the following ways:

  • Explaining how the court system works 
  • Assisting with tasks such as filling out court forms 
  • Helping clients to plan what they are going to say in court 
  • Going into court hearings with clients 

Find out more about how you can get involved in volunteering in a court

3. Get a job as a paralegal 

Working as a paralegal is a great idea for gaining legal work experience and bolster your CV. 

Paralegals provide administrative support to solicitors and only requires candidates to have (or to be pursuing a law degree).  As a paralegal, you may be required to complete the following tasks: 

  • Interviewing new clients 
  • Taking witness statements 
  • Preparing and drafting legal documents 
  • Providing legal advice

There are paralegal opportunities within both high street firms as well as within larger firms within the city. 

Being a paralegal is a good way to kick-start your career in law. It is an excellent idea to gain legal work experience by working as a paralegal part-time whilst studying at university. 

Tip: Find out as much as you can about the role of a paralegal, then start applying for opportunities.  

4. Secure places on vacation schemes 

Vacation schemes last between a week and a month. Vac schemes usually take place during the summer, Easter or Christmas. 

During a vacation scheme, you will get the opportunity to meet trainees, associates, solicitors and partners. The scheme will also help you to improve your legal knowledge and help you to gain a better understanding of your career path. 

The structure of the vacation scheme will differ depending on the firm. However, generally speaking, you will get a supervisor and will gain experience within different practice areas

Benefits of completing a vac scheme 

Some law firms use vacation schemes to identify candidates for their training contracts. This means securing a vacation scheme can significantly boost your chances of getting a training contract at a top law firm.

Several firms offer vacation schemes these includes (but are not limited to): Allen & Overy, Dentons, Eversheds Sutherland, Shearman & Sterling, Trowers & Hamlins, Mills & Reeve and Penningtons Manches. 

Tip: apply for vacation schemes as early as possible as they are extremely competitive and many places are filled on a rolling basis. 

As a part of the application process for vac schemes, you may need to attend a one-to-one or a panel interview. Here at Graduate Coach, we provide interview coaching for students, graduates and career changers. Find out how we can help you to nail your vac scheme interview with our interview coaching

5. Apply for mini-pupilages 

Mini pupilages are short work experience placements for aspiring Barristers. They are designed to give you a taste of the Bar. 

Mini pupillage applications are usually open for second or final year undergraduates. However, it may be possible to get a mini-pupillage placement in your first year of university. 

Applicants tend to be current law students. Non-law students may have to wait until they are doing their GDL. 

The mini-pupillage application process

To apply for mini-pupillages, you will need to send a copy of your CV and cover letter to each of the chambers you are applying to. Some applications will require you to complete an online application form. 

Here is a handy list of Barrister’s chambers that offer mini-pupillages

6. Do some marshalling 

Marshalling is another way of gaining law work experience.

It involves shadowing a judge. Marshalling experiences typically last between one day and a week. This experience will give you a birds-eye view of the legal system. 

It is a good idea to marshal a judge if you aspire to the Bar. Whilst marshalling is not a substitute for completing a mini-pupillage, it will complement any mini-pupilage experiences you get. Marshalling experience will also stand out on your CV. 

How to gain marshalling experience 

  • Contact your Inn of Court or your local Crown or county court 
  • Send out speculative applications to judges explaining why you would like to marshal them 
  • Ask contacts within your network 

7. Take part in debates and mooting 

Most universities host debating and mooting competitions for students interested in pursuing a legal career. Find out if your university hosts these opportunities and get involved with them. 

Mooting involves presenting a legal issue or problem against an opposing counsel and before a judge. Mooting is often mistaken for a mock trial. However, it differs from a mock trial as it assumes that the evidence has already been tested. Mooting places more emphasis on practising the ability to argue the question of law. 

If you are studying a for an LLB law degree, you will probably be presented with the opportunity to gain mooting experience as a part of your course. 

Moots involve:

  • Conducting legal research 
  • Preparing written submissions 
  • Delivering an oral presentation  

It is a good idea to get involved with mooting opportunities because getting into the legal profession is very competitive and recruiters will be interested in seeing any evidence of advocacy or mooting experience.  

8. Visiting a court

Regardless of whether you want to become a Solicitor or Barrister understanding of how courts operate is important. It’s a good idea to visit a court to gain valuable insights. 

You can sit in on real cases to see legal professionals in action. Gaining this experience can help you to make informed career decisions and work out what area of law you would like to pursue. 

Spending some time in court can help you to decide whether to practice in a contentious or non-contentious area of law. 

Even if you are sure that you would like to become a solicitor visiting a court is useful. Some law firms take their trainees to the High Court to help them to gain a deeper understanding of how their work impacts what happens in court.  

Tips for visiting a court to gain legal work experience 

  • Arrive a few hours before the case starts if it is a high profile case with lots of media coverage. 
  • Check the rules of the courtroom before you enter. At the Old Baily, for example, you are not allowed to bring anything electronic. 
  • Remember to bow to the crown when entering the courtroom and stand when the judge enters. 

9. Attend law insight days 

Insight days are also known as open days or workshops. 

These events are held at law firms and usually involves shadowing, a guided tour of the office, group exercises and talks from partners and the recruitment team. 

Attending insight days will help you to decide which law firms you would like to apply for. 

It is a really good idea to attend legal insight days because some firms use them to screen applications for their vacation schemes and training contracts. 

Here is a list of open day dates and their application deadlines

10. Join law societies

If you are currently studying at university, it is a good idea to join the law society. Being a member of the law society will present opportunities to network with other aspiring legal professionals and to meet legal recruiters. 

University law societies host events and talks to give students a deeper understanding of legal careers. 

You can also gain valuable skills from helping to run the law society at your university. 

If you are a member of an unrepresented group and wish to become a solicitor, you can join Aspiring Solicitors. Aspiring Solicitors work with law firms to provide events, mentoring, commercial awareness competitions and employability assistance.  

11. Get a legal research position 

Various institutions such as universities and governmental bodies require people with legal knowledge. 

Look out for legal research job opportunities. This role would help you to develop your legal research skills as well as providing some law-related work experience. 

Legal Work Experience

12. Complete a Legal virtual internship 

The last of our legal work experience ideas is to do a virtual legal internship.

A few of the leading law firms have collaborated with InsideSherpa to provide virtual law internships and experience programmes. 

Some of the companies offering these experiences include:

  • Latham & Watkins 
  • White & Case 
  • Pinsent Masons 
  • King & Wood Mallesons  
  • Baker McKenzie 

These virtual work experience placements are free and take around 6 hours to complete. 

Don’t dismiss non-law related work experience 

We hope you implement the above legal work experience ideas.

Remember, both law and non-law work experiences are really important. Gaining a wide range of experiences will help you to develop your commercial awareness skills. If you will be applying for commercial law firms, recruiters will be interested in your commercial awareness skills. 

Work experience is important because it will help you to gain and develop employability skills. 

Legal work experience ideas: summary 

We hope this post has given you some new legal work experience ideas

Here at Graduate Coach, we have helped aspiring lawyers to enter the legal profession. Visit our one-to-one career coaching service. 

Social Media: Five Ways To Make Your Profiles Recruiter-Friendly

Social media can be great for so many things – a place to vent, share photos with your friends and keep up to date with the latest news. What’s not to like? 

Where it tends to fall down is when it comes to your job search. While it may seem like a great idea at the time to post drunken university photos or strong-worded statuses, recruiters may not look so favourably on them. 

In fact, according to a recent survey by Reppler, seven out of ten recruiters actually reject candidates based on their social media content, highlighting just how important it is to make them recruiter-friendly. 

But with so much already to think about when it comes to social media – like disabling Twitter autoplay or keeping on top of Facebook’s privacy settings – it can be easy to overlook how important your online persona actually is when searching for a job. 

Fortunately, we’re here to help! Dakota Murphey has put together this post sharing tips for making your social media platforms more recruiter friendly.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at what you should and shouldn’t be doing on social media, to boost your employability. 

1: Remove offensive material. 

The first question you need to ask yourself is – if you were an employer looking at your profile, how would you feel? If you have photos of you planking in various locations from 2012, for example, it may be time to get rid of them. Likewise, if you have any especially bad university drinking photos publicly available, they will only make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. 

It’s not just photos you need to think about either – employers will also look at the past statuses you’ve shared as well. Look back through the posts you’ve published, and remove any which use offensive language, relate to illegal activity, or just downright make you cringe. Likewise, while it may be tempting to keep any hilarious frapes for the memories, they could only hinder your chances of getting your dream job. 

Think about what you post. 

Once you’ve sorted your profile out, don’t fall back into the same routine by posting more offensive material. You need to think about what you are publishing, and avoid coming across overly negative or opinionated. 

While it’s perfectly fine to have an opinion, constantly publishing status after status about certain hot-topics will only make it come across like you’re a bit of a loose cannon. As such, it could make employers question whether you’d be a disruptive influence in the workplace. 

Don’t give them that luxury – think about what you’re posting and avoid sharing content too regularly. 

Utilise privacy settings. 

Nearly all the social media platforms now have privacy settings you can adjust on a person-by-person basis. Make the most of having this option; when you share a new post, alter the settings so that only your friends can see it, rather than the entire public. 

Do this with your previous photos, videos and statuses as well – your potential recruiter will only be able to see what is made publicly available to them. Keep anything you don’t want them to see behind closed doors. 

Emphasise how hireable you are. 

Your social media profiles should convince recruiters to hire you, rather than deter them. The best way to do this is by making sure they match your CV and emphasise any particular skills you have, or experiences you’ve done. 

If you talk in your cover letter about a particular gap year experience you’ve had, for example, make sure you have photos available that corroborate your story. Also, if you have done any work that you’re particularly proud of, share it and make it easier for recruiters to come across. 

Think about who you follow.

It’s all well and good having the perfect social media profile, but if you follow the wrong people or organisations, you could shoot yourself in the foot. While it may be fine to support what you believe in, recruiters may not look too fondly on your application if you follow people or organisations that disagree with their working environment. 

For example, if you retweet a Donald Trump status or show your support for a controversial campaign, you could come across badly to recruiters. Make sure you don’t annoy them before they’ve even had the chance to meet you. 


There you have it – five effective methods to clean up your social media profiles for employers. 

The most important thing is to really think about what it is you’re posting, and carefully consider how it comes across. If it’s at all risky, don’t do it. But if it adds to your employability, then do – it all comes down to common sense. 

One thing’s for certain though, make sure you remove those planking photos. Nobody liked them – even when they were a thing. 

Author Bio
Dakota Murphey has more than a decade of experience in a range of HR and Marketing roles. Since becoming a full-time mum, she enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge through her writing and connecting with like-minded professionals. Follow her on Twitter: @Dakota_Murphey

Here at graduate Coach, we offer one-to-one career coaching, interview training, online courses and books.

How to Beat Interview Anxiety

Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk into your next interview feeling confident and anxiety-free? 

In this post, we will share tips on how to beat interview anxiety before, during and after your interview. 

What is interview anxiety? 

Anxiety is the state of feeling uneasy such as feeling fearful or worried. 

We all experience feelings of anxiety at some point during our lives. 

Feeling fearful or worried about an interview is common. 

Interview anxiety can range from being mild to severe.  Some job seekers feel worried just before their interview, whilst others miss interviews due to severe interview anxiety. 

How to Beat Interview Anxiety before an interview

Here are some tips on what you can do to reduce your anxiety before your next interview.


Being prepared for your interview will help to reduce your anxiety. 

It is important that you research the: role, company and industry in detail. 

During your interview, you will need to convince the interviewer that you can do the job. Therefore, you will need to prepare for competency-based interview questions. 

When it comes to researching the company, it’s not enough to skim over the website. Be sure to find out as much as possible about the company especially the company’s mission and values. 

We offer interview coaching that is designed to teach you lifelong interview skills. Over the past decade, we have helped hundreds of people who came to us feeling anxious about their upcoming interviews. 

We also offer an online interview course called: “Nail That Interview“. We condensed our learning from our one-to-one coaching to design this course.

The course is divided into 9 modules and contains 8 downloadable guides.

Be organised

As well as preparing for your interview, it is important that you prepare the following in advance:

  • What you will wear to the interview
  • The directions to where the interview will be held
  • What you will bring to the interview i.e. your CV, notebook and a pen
  • plan to arrive at the destination of your interview 20 minutes early
  • Decide what you will have for breakfast on the morning of your interview day
  • Plan to have a good night of sleep before your interview

Having all of the above ready in advance of the interview will help you to beat your interview anxiety.

How to Beat Interview Anxiety

Reducing anxiety on the day of your interview

So, you’ve prepared for your interview well and you’ve organised everything you will need for the interview in advance. This will significantly help you to reduce your interview anxiety.

However, as it gets closer to your interview, you may notice a spike in your anxiety levels.

On the day of your interview, it is important to stay as calm as possible.

Use the S.T.O.P method to reduce feelings of nervousness and anxiety on the day of your interview.

S = stop what you are doing and focus on your thoughts
T = take some deep breaths
O = observe what is going on in your mind and body
P = proceed with an action that will help you to feel more confident

The S.T.O.P method is a cognitive behavioural technique used to nip racing thoughts in the bud.

If you are sitting in the waiting area before an interview and start to feel anxious do the following:

  • Stop and acknowledge your anxious thoughts and nervous energy
  • Take 5 deep breaths to reduce tension
  • Observe how you are feeling and what you are doing. If you are fidgeting, stop.
  • Proceed by taking positive actions. Sitting up properly and taking further deep breaths can help to reduce your anxiety.
interview nerves before an interview in a waiting room

Get into the right mindset

Block out anxious thoughts by rationalising the situation. Remind yourself that an interview is a conversation. The interviewer isn’t trying to catch you out and this is your opportunity to demonstrate that you can do the job.

Be present with your thoughts instead of thinking “what if my mind goes blank” or “what if I don’t get the job”. Focus on the task in hand.

How to reduce anxiety during interviews

Ask for a glass of water

You will normally be offered a glass of water at the start of the interview.

Don’t decline the offer as there are many advantages of drinking water during your interview.

  • If you are asked a challenging question, taking a sip of water can give you extra time to gather your thoughts.
  • It will help you to stay hydrated. nervousness or anxiety may make your throat feel dry. To prevent this sip on some water during the interview.
  • Drinking water may help to reduce your stress levels

Check out our blog post on the benefits of drinking water during an interview.

Speak slowly

Many people speak very quickly when they are feeling nervous or anxious. However, even if you are feeling this way, speaking slower can help you to come across as being calm and confident.

Don’t worry if you hesitate. It is ok to take some time to think about your answer before you start speaking.

Taking just a few moments before responding, thinking of a strong answer and speaking slowly can help you to give better answers.

Remember, the interviewer will understand that you may feel nervous

Most candidates feel anxious during interviews.

The person interviewing you has most likely interviewed several nervous interviewees. The likeliness is, if they sense that you are feeling particularly anxious they may try to make you feel at ease by encouraging you to take your time with thinking about your answers.

Remember, the interviewer is just another human being. There is even the possibility that they feel a bit anxious during your interview as well.

Dealing with post-interview anxiety

Waiting to hear back from hiring managers after an interview can be extremely nerve-wracking.

You may start to over analyse your performance and the responses you gave.

Some people experience job offer anxiety.

Job offer anxiety is the stress and anxiousness experienced by someone who is waiting for a call back to learn about the outcome of their interview.

Continue your job search: After your interview, continue your job search. Having other opportunities on the horizon will put you at ease regardless of the outcome.

Put things into perspective: if you don’t receive a call back the next day, it might be because the people involved in the interview process may not have had the opportunity to meet yet. So don’t worry if you haven’t heard back after a few days.

How to beat interview anxiety: summary

We hope that this post has helped you to reduce your interview nerves.

Job interviews make most people feel anxious. Feeling a bit anxious can be advantageous, but if your anxiety is negatively impacting your interview performance, it’s time to take action.

If you have been receiving rejections after your interview check out our post called: “Why do I keep failing at interviews?

Here at Graduate Coach, we offer coaching and career advice for students, graduates and career changers. Our coaching helps candidates to land the right job. We also offer support with CVs, cover letters, video interviews and more.

When to Start Looking for Graduate Jobs

Ideally, you’ll want to have a graduate job lined up and waiting for you when you finish university. However, this is not the reality for many graduates. Knowing when to start looking for graduate jobs is vital. 

This post will cover when you should start looking and applying for graduate jobs to give yourself the best chances of success.

It is never too early to start looking for graduate jobs

Your graduate job search can start as early as your first year of university. 

Graduate employers build talent pipelines. These are comprised first, second and final year students. 

Candidates who are a part of a company’s talent pipeline increase their chances of getting a graduate job

How to become a part of a company’s talent pipeline? 

You can become a part of different companies talent pipelines by:

  • Attending networking events and insight days
  • Attending graduate careers fairs 
  • Applying for internships, spring weeks and vacation schemes 

If you attend an insight day at a company that you are interested in, during your first year of university, you will gain an advantage when it comes to applying for a summer internship in your second year. Getting a summer internship will increase your chance of getting a graduate job at the company. 

When to Start Looking for Graduate Jobs

When to start applying for jobs before graduation 

To get a graduate job before you graduate you need to actively seek opportunities to gain as much experience and exposure as possible.  

  • First-year students – During your first year of university lookout for opportunities to attend networking events and insight days.

  • Second-year students – In your second year, look for structured summer internships, vacation schemes, spring weeks and placement year opportunities.

  • Final year students – In your last year of university, you can start sending job applications for graduate schemes before graduation. The main application window is between September and January. You can also apply for graduate jobs. These opportunities are open all year round.

As well as seeking out these opportunities, it is important that you do the following: 

  • Practice psychometric tests 
  • Look for short-term work experience placements and shadowing opportunities 
  • Improve your interview technique 
  • Understand what you will need to demonstrate at assessment centres 
  • Research the graduate recruitment process
  • Write achievement-based CVs and cover letters
  • Keep your social media profiles professional  

The above is really important if you want to start applying for jobs before graduation. 

Why it is important to apply for graduate jobs and schemes early 

All companies have different application processes for students and graduates. 

However, most graduate recruiters hire on a rolling basis meaning they make offers to suitable candidates on a first-come basis.  

When to start applying for jobs if you have already graduated 

What should you do if you haven’t secured an opportunity and you have already graduated?

Check out our post on what to do after graduation from university

If you would like to join a graduate scheme you may need to wait until the next graduate scheme application window which is between September and January. Graduate scheme start dates are usually between July and October of the following year. 

In the meantime, you could apply for graduate jobs which take applications all year round. 

To gain a deeper understanding of the difference between graduate schemes and graduate jobs read our post called “what is a graduate scheme”. 

What types of graduate jobs to look for 

Your job hunt can be extremely difficult, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. 

If you are unsure of what graduate career is right for you, get yourself a copy of The Student Book, written by Chris Davies the founder of Graduate Coach. 

The Student Book contains everything you need to know to get the job you really want. Here are some other books for graduates who want to excel in their career. 

We also offer a six-stage one-to-one coaching programme to help students and graduates to discover their career path and get the right graduate-level job.  

When to Start Looking for Graduate Jobs: Summary 

When it comes to looking for graduate jobs, time is of the essence. If you are at university, start looking as soon as possible if you want to secure a job before graduating. 

Whilst you are at university there will be several opportunities to network with potential employers. It is a good idea to take advantage of these opportunities. 

If you have already graduated, all is not lost. You can still apply for graduate schemes starting the following year. You will also be able to start applying for graduate jobs that recruit all year round.