Acquiring (work) experience during your study

All students acquire work experience during their study: this may be via a hands-on trainee placement or a research or other project in or outside the school. It is partly on the basis of what you have learnt from these experiences that you embark on your career. Be aware of this: tackle all trainee placements and projects as professionally as possible. For example, you already start to build up your network right from the start of your study.

The right place for work experience

An internship (work placement) will give you valuable work experience. It can also be a springboard to a job. Keep that in mind when you look for an internship. Most of the bachelor's courses include a compulsory period of hands-on training (internship). The placement coordinator of your course can tell you more about the requirements. Put your main objectives in writing: making contacts; getting work experience; developing your technical knowledge and skills; doing the internship with someone else; reaching a higher level; experience working abroad. Then find out in what way the internship can contribute to these objectives.

Some courses have good contacts with workplaces that offer placements and the available opportunities are accessible through the course organisation. Other courses deliberately make the students look for a placement themselves. Ask acquaintances, teachers and former apprentices as well. Make sure your CV is ready and write a good letter.

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Applying for a job

 

Planning and organisation

Make a plan, including preparations and follow up. Consider how long a fruitful internship will last, and what time periods are best for you, the work placement provider and your training programme. If you want to go abroad: check whether you need permits, and if so, how long the application procedure takes. Make a list of what you need to make it work: residence permit; a place to live; insurances.

Renumeration and contract

A workplace that offers an internship is not legally obliged to offer remuneration, though it is common practice to do so. In this case too, the placement coordinator of your course can tell you more about the fees that are customary in your field. Ask fellow students what arrangements they have made as well. The more comparative material you have, the stronger your bargaining position. Always make a budget for income and expenditures. If the provider of the internship is bound by a particular collective labour agreement (cao) and that agreement contains provisions on remuneration for internships, the provider must abide by them.

The rights and responsibilities of the three parties concerned are clearly described in the work placement contract. Compare a work placement contract with an employment contract. Some internship providers will actually offer you an employment contract.