Finding work experience as a social scientist

Lots of social science students are looking for work experience but are struggling to find something that’s right for them. If you’re searching for valuable work experience to help you in your career plans, here are some ideas to help you in your search.

Top tips from the public sector

To find out more about work experience in the public sector, I spoke to James Darley from Transform Society. He was clear that there are often plenty of opportunities to get work experience in the public sector, it just requires some research to find them.

Councils can advertise opportunities for local students on their website, so it’s worth signing up to their jobs mailing lists. Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are our local councils.

A view across Bristol harbourside, including houseboats and multi-coloured houses

Bristol is also home to lots of local charities and social enterprises. They may have work experience opportunities or be open to hosting an SME internship. There’s no central list of organisations, so you’ll need to find ones relevant to you. Bristol SU has plenty of connections with local charities and you could approach them with a speculative application. You can also check out, or search for different charities’ websites.

And don’t be afraid to drop in with a copy of your CV! The old-fashioned methods of finding work experience can still work.


Some charities offer one-off and micro-volunteering opportunities – these are easier to complete alongside study, part-time work, and other commitments. You could spend a day picking litter, help map wheelchair accessibility in buildings, proof-read proposals, or birdwatch out of your bedroom window. These all help you understand what it’s like to work for and support a cause close to your heart in a really accessible way.

If you’re looking for something more substantial over the summer, why not try balancing part-time volunteering with part-time work? You can volunteer with a charity that’s related to your career aspirations and work in another sector that will help you develop other valuable skills – twice the experience and twice the personal development!

Do good in your department

There are lots of opportunities available in your department to make a difference, develop valuable skills and get great work experience. Become a PASS Leader and you can lead study sessions, developing your communication and leadership skills while further exploring your subject. Become an academic rep and learn how to make change happen in professional environments. These roles and many others recruit throughout TB2 and into the summer so look out for opportunities as they arise. Some are even paid roles!

Any experience is valuable experience

Lots of relevant companies will have part-time roles including administrative assistants, marketing assistants, etc. While these may not feel as relevant to your career aspirations, you can learn more about a company or sector and build networks. You’ll also be able to develop valuable skills that will help you in any job – so many jobs these days involve social media, for instance.

Get a mentor

If you’re struggling to find work experience in a particular field, finding a mentor may help you in lots of ways. They can be an experienced and friendly face to turn to for support, they can share their experiences working in the sector, and they can give you ideas for getting into the sector yourself. The Professional Liaison Network run a popular mentoring scheme each October, or you can find your own mentor on LinkedIn or on Bristol Connects.

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