Unpaid work experience is very often the only way to get your foot in the door but some students find it extremely difficult to fund themselves during an internship.

Taking on a short term placement is a great way of seeing what’s it like to work for a company in your chosen career.

Some employers pay out-of-pocket expenses such as travel but in some other places students have to cover all expenses themselves.

The government guidelines state that students required to do an internship for less than a year aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage. For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage/who-gets-the-minimum-wage

“I had to say ‘no’ to potentially one of the biggest opportunities of my life.”

A former Nottingham student, Jack Hogan, was offered an unpaid placement in London last year.

“I was living in Nottingham and at the time I couldn’t afford to either live or commute to London every day for three weeks.”

“Unfortunately, I had to say ‘no’ to potentially one of the biggest opportunities of my life.”

However, very often good local and regional opportunities are being overlooked.

Finding a placement in the area where students work or live could make it more economically viable to go on an unpaid placement.

Sam Nahirny, deputy editor at Nusic, was once an intern himself.

He said: “Work experience allows you to learn both the things that will develop your skillset and what kind of industry you should be in without the pressure of a contract.

“From an employer’s point of view – it is brilliant. We get to give them a real workplace experience, from my case in media, which there are few and far between.”

NTU Employability Team Leader, Joanna Davies, urges students to carefully consider pros and cons of each placement.

Audio: Joanne Davies speaks about student experiences…

“Students need to think whether it’s worth the investment for them in their long-term career to spend two or three weeks with a company.

“They need to consider if they’re going to get a lot out of that [placement] for their job prospects.”

For more information tune in to CBJ News special programme ‘Young Willing and Working for Peanuts’ on Tuesday, 22nd March, at 4pm.

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