Careers and work experience

Careers and work experience

Because they are critical to society and the economy, the science, technology and engineering sectors actively seek talented students from schools, colleges and universities.

There are plenty of ways in, including paid placements, apprenticeships and graduate schemes, and unpaid work experience. A selection of options and some basic guidance is below.

Looking for specific career opportunities? Check out our careers and volunteering pages.

Careers videos and podcasts

A selection of videos and podcasts from CSES and local employers (see more below) that talk about and showcase careers in STEM.

Local employers

Companies in Essex who offer work experience, placements and other opportunities.

National schemes

National work experience and placement schemes to help get students started on their careers.

Confused by all the options?

You're probably not alone. Here is a quick glossary to help you out:

Work experience


An unpaid, short-term arrangement (typically a week or two) where a student works with a company either on a structured project or shadowing one or more staff members. The student may get to work on real projects.

Industrial placement / internship


A paid placement lasting a full academic year (6-12 months contract length) where a student works full-time with a company on real projects. The student is a full employee and may be invited back for future employment. The company may make a contribution towards university fees as part of the package.

  • This could be a gap year (before going to university).
  • Or it could be a sandwich / intercalated year (between years on a university course).
Summer placement


A paid placement on the same basis as the above but typically lasting 8-16 weeks during the summer holidays between years at university or immediately after leaving school.

Graduate scheme


For recent graduates starting as regular employees. Typically eligible to those who have graduated within the last 5 years, they last 2-4 years and involve either rotation among different parts of the business or targeted placement on a serious project.

Sometimes a structured training / development programme is attached, for example working towards Chartered status.



An alternative to university, where a student leaves school at 16 or 18 and starts working straight away with a company. With the clear advantage of being paid from day one, apprentices typically get 1-2 days per week of dedicated training at a local college or university, alongside their regular work which will include rotated placements.

Degree / higher apprenticeship


Apprenticeships in which the apprentice completes a full degree (Bachelors or Masters) as part of their training. This is a higher qualification than the Certificates or Diplomas associated with 'regular' apprenticeships.

 Illustration of career path options

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