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Looking for work experience?

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Searching for ‘work experience’ opportunities can be confusing. Organisations can use a few different terms for work experience including placements, internships, vacation (vac) work or programs, cadetships and the more formal work integrated learning which is usually attached to a unit.

Finding a work experience opportunity

It’s pretty straightforward if a work experience opportunity is advertised and you meet the criteria – sort out your application and apply. Remember, Curtin Careers is here to help you with your applications.

Securing unadvertised work experience, or even developing your own opportunity, can be a more challenging. Here are our top tips on how to approach this:

  • Check out who is advertising in your field, noting the mid-tier or smaller companies you could approach. Larger organisations are more likely to conduct formal work experience programs and are therefore less likely to take on individual students.
  • Create a letter of speculation introducing yourself as seeking work experience. Highlight your skills, attributes, and passion to gain entry to your field.
  • Talk to your networks, including folks in your workplace or community. Don’t have any networks yet? You can begin building some via student clubs, professional associations or online via LinkedIn.
  • Seek out an industry mentor to ask for advice around breaking into your field. Don’t ask directly for work experience but opportunities may come via this relationship.
  • Keep an eye on UniHub – you never know when work experience opportunities that might just fit your degree and skillset will be posted.
  • Enrol in an internship unit if one exists in your course. Try not to leave this to the final semester where possible.

What about unpaid work experience?

It’s important to note that work experience opportunities can be unpaid – meaning you’ll need to way up a whole lot of considerations.


  1. You’re investing in your future.
  2. Do well and you can a great professional referee and, potentially, a paid opportunity.
  3. You’ll get to experience a new and professional working environment.
  4. It’s a chance to broaden your network.
  5. You’ll be able use the knowledge you’ve gained while studying – putting theory into practice.


  1. Can you afford it? If you’re working to support your studies, committing to an unpaid opportunity may mean less time for paid work.
  2. Juggling your time – do you have the time to spare alongside your other commitments?
  3. Even unpaid work experience takes time and effort to find and secure.

While certain unpaid work arrangements are lawful, others are not. To ensure you’re not being taken advantage of, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for guidelines around unpaid work experience.

If you have found an unpaid work experience opportunity, you may not be covered by the organisation’s Personal Accident Insurance (PAI). Recruit Curtin provides free work experience insurance to eligible Curtin students for approved, co-curricular placements that comply with the Fair Work Act (2009).

Remember, if you would like to talk to us about finding work experience and building your skillset, simply book in online for a Careers Conversation.

This article was written by Career Development Consultant, Susan Surgener.

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