How can I find work experience?

Work experience is a great opportunity to explore your career options, find roles that suit you, and improve your prospects.

It also benefits your career by allowing you to:

  • Develop practical, hands-on skills
  • Build an understanding of the industry in which you may work
  • Understand your career options
  • Expand your network and contacts
  • Apply your academic knowledge

Industry Placements

Undergraduate students often complete industrial placements as part of their degree. These are often referred to as "sandwich years". 

There are also opportunities to carry out placements over the summer break.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has helpful advice for finding work experience within the pharmaceutical industry. This includes opportunities to work on a project within the industry during the summer, by obtaining a bursary through the British Science Foundation CREST awards or the Nuffield Foundation.

If you start studying for an undergraduate degree you can apply for an undergraduate industry placement. The ABPI publishes a list of undergraduate industry placements. Many pharmaceutical companies also list their own undergraduate placement schemes, such as these ones by AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

Academic summer placements

Academic placements can last up to 12 weeks over the summer break. Universities will often advertise these on their websites and social media. Some may be unpaid. Others, such as the Wellcome Trust eight-week Summer Internship programme, offer a salary. Some rare placements include financial support for accommodation, travel and food, such as the Amgen Scholarship scheme.

Placements are often advertised through membership bodies, like us, or through careers services. See our Studentships and Internships page for more information on current opportunities.

 If there is a lab you are interested in, you can also approach the lab directly. They may be able to offer you an unpaid placement, or find you funding for a short period of time. 

In2ScienceUK is an organisation that empowers young people and helps provide insights into careers in research. They connect students with laboratories for workshops, placements and skills days to help develop skills and epxerience to help them pursue a career in research.

When applying for summer placements, seek help from your school or science teachers, be sure to read all the information provided and carefully follow the instructions given as part of the application.