Why get work experience?

In today’s competitive graduate labour market, and specifically in science-based roles, it’s increasingly important to gain work experience during undergraduate degrees. Many graduate scientists find it difficult to obtain work in labs, often because they lack the technical skills and experience to back up their strong theoretical knowledge.

In Highfliers’ ‘Graduate Market in 2019’ survey, over a third of the recruiters warned that “graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process for their graduate programmes.” They noted that this was “irrespective of their academic achievements or the university they had attended.”

Safe to say that gaining work experience during your degree makes a BIG difference in securing a graduate job or a place on a Masters or PhD programme.

What counts as work experience?

Work experience can be a day spent shadowing a researcher in a lab, a 12-month industrial placement, or anything in between. Whether your experience is paid or voluntary, short or longterm, it all counts!  

What kind of work/industry can I gain experience in?

Science-based roles are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary, so your work could be as part of a team of other scientists, as well as commercial functions like marketing and sales. 

Here are some of the key sectors available - be flexible where you look:

What will I gain from work experience?

“We need people with interpersonal skills as strong as their science.”

Head of R&D Recruitment, GSK

Where to look for vacancies: 

Many organisations offer formal work experience to undergraduates (aiming them at second-year students onwards), which are advertised in the autumn term for the following summer. These are usually highly competitive, so do your research, put time into making a quality application, and apply early!

Here are some specifically lab-related websites to check for vacancies:

Search by location, type of work and register for jobs by email. Find information about a career in health.

Other ways to find work experience:

In addition to the lab-specific links above, there are many other scientific job boards and resources to check for lab-based opportunities and experience. See our guide “Scientists Seeking Employment”.

Where to research employers and industry:

Organisations might not have a good Google rank, meaning that good opportunities might be buried in the depths of the internet. Research employers to approach speculatively and keep up with industry news:

Top tip from LiCa Scientific Recruitment:

Keep an eye on newspapers and sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google News, too –

“When you see ‘fund’, think ‘jobs’ - if money comes into a company, they're likely to be hiring.”
Examples include: Life Sciences Discovery Fund and Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund


Careers and Employability Service Support:

The Careers and Employability Service offers a range of support to Manchester Met students and graduates:

Detailed careers guides
: Access our full range of careers guides on our website.

Ask a Careers Question Online: Get online advice through My Career Hub, ask your question at any time and receive support via email. 

Careers Consultant Appointments: Book a 30 minute appointment to discuss preparation for upcoming teacher training interviews or review your performance with a Careers and Employability Consultant. 

Careers Events: Meet employers and enhance your employability by attending our workshops, employer events and careers fairs.

For more information visit www.mmu.ac.uk/careers.

·         In addition to the lab-specific links above, there are many other scientific job boards and resources to check for lab-based opportunities and experience. See our guide “Scientists Seeking Employment” at mmu.ac.uk/careers/guides.


Careers and Employability Support

We offer range of support services to Manchester Met students and graduates:

For more information visit mmu.ac.uk/careers