During and After College
Work Experience and Volunteering
Getting a job or further study are not the only options open to you on completing an undergraduate qualification. It is possible to get work experience even when there are limited job opportunities. Volunteering is also a route followed by Irish graduates.
Work experience or a volunteer post can be a good use of your time. It may help you develop further your skills and knowledge, as well as gaining an insight into a particular field or area of work. You may be giving back something of real value, whether it is in your local community or one far from home.
Work experience opportunities are sometimes called graduate placements or internships. You generally dont get paid. Placements can be more general in terms of the work experience gained, whereas internships tend to relate to a specific occupation or career. FÁS have introduced a graduate placement programme in response to the current labour market conditions. Further information on the programme is available here. You can use the internet to find other placement opportunities. If you are interested in a placement or internship in a particular field, have a look at the websites of related organisations to see if they are offering such opportunities. Look up the recruitment and training pages of national newspapers also. If you are still at college or have recently graduated, talk to the College Careers Service about possible work experience placements or internships.
AHEAD, the Association of Higher Education Access and Disability, have a paid placement scheme for graduates with disabilities, in collaboration with employers. The scheme is called Willing Able Mentoring, or WAM.
Volunteering can be a very worthwhile experience, whether at home or abroad. Graduates working as volunteers meet new people, experience new situations and challenges, and demonstrate that they are using their time for personal development and civic engagement. Many charities, nationally and internationally, offer volunteering opportunities and further information is available directly from them or via their website. Volunteer.ie and volunteeringireland.ie provide information on volunteering opportunities. Also, try activelink.ie, which has a section on volunteering. For overseas opportunities, try the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre and the Irish division of VSO. For advice on making a good volunteering decision, try Comhlamh's volunteeringoptions.org