How can you find a suitable work placement?

A good ‘match’ between an intern and an work placement provider is beneficial to both parties. This educational tip explains how both students and study programmes can find possible work placements and which platforms are helpful for finding a suitable work placement. 

(Aligning the expectations between intern and work placement beforehand also has a positive impact. This is discussed in the educational tip 'How can you align the expectations regarding the work placement with the student and how do you decide on the supervision?'.

Who can find a work placement? 

The student

Are students themselves looking for a work placement? In that case, they should discuss all administrative and practical arrangements with the work placement provider. Only in case of problems can the student appeal to the study programme. Finding a work placement can have various advantages for the student: 

  • It is the perfect preparation for applying for a job. The intern has to think explicitly and creatively about a win-win for themselves and the organization. 
  • The students practice determination and taking initiative: they have to think about the choices they make, contact their own network, use various channels to look for organizations, …

As a study programme, you should consider the following focal points if students look for work placements themselves: 

  • Clearly communicate to the students beforehand which requirements a work placement has to meet.
  • If possible, share some do’s and don’ts with the students about communicating with potential host organizations.
  • Ask students to possibly present potential work placements to their supervisor at Ghent University before they actually contact the organization.
  • Ask students to possibly write a letter of application to the potential work placement provider. Many study programmes include application training as learning content. If you make clear agreements with the provider in this regard, the first conversation between the interested student and the work placement provider can also be considered as a job interview. 
  • Provide a template that students can use to hand in their work placement proposal. This template can also be a part of the work placement guide.


The study programme

Throughout the years, many study programmes have compiled a list with interesting work placement providers. High-quality work placement contacts that students provided in the past can be added to this list systematically. Students can select a work placement from this list based on interest, location, sector, …

Consider the following areas of attention if you provide work placements to your students as a study pogramme:  

  • Let students also fill in the template for the work placement proposal in this case. (see: work placement guide). 
  • Let students contact or visit the organizations beforehand if possible, even if you know the organization well as a study programme. It is important for students to meet them and make clear arrangements. 
  • Ask students to possibly list several preferences. This way you avoid that more students are interested in a work placement than are needed and you can find a suitable match for each student. 
  • The organization itself could also decide who gets to do a work placement. This can be a part of the application training.  
  • Let students read a couple of work placement reports of past years. This can make it easier for them to choose. Students also indicate that this adds to a more conscious decision for a work placement. As the responsible for work placements, you should clearly communicate to students that the information in these reports is not always objective. If students have doubts about their work placement based on the report, they should be able to consult the responsible for these work placements for (more) objective information.  
  • Do not limit yourself as a study programme to the necessary minimum number of work placements. Keep actively exploring the work field for new opportunities, thus evolving together with the sales market. This way, you enlarge your network as a study programme and you can offer each student a range of “options” for an work placement. 

How can you search and find work placements? 

  • In order to compile a list of work placements, the faculty and study programmes have to proactively reach out to companies and organizations. Systematically constructing and maintaining good relations with alumni facilitates such contacts with the work field and create new opportunities for a further dialogue between the study programme and various sectors. 
  • Check diverse free online options to find work placements. An example of a recent, fast-growing platform where organizations can post (international) work placements is
  • Browse the websites of larger companies for permanent or periodical work placements as companies do not always take the effort to consult various channels or contact study programmes. 
  • On the (international) market you also find (commercial, paid) intermediary organizations for work placements. These offer work placements or actively search for them, sometimes with further framing. Their rates are often high for students, without guaranteed high-quality service, although they are sometimes (co-)funded by local governments, which can lead to the cost of the service being charged to the hosting organization instead of the students. Either way, such commercial organizations are not a necessity to find an work placement. 
  • Sometimes companies or organizations contact the study programme themselves. To this end, make sure to keep the registration procedure as simple as possible: limit the administrative burden and keep the expectations briefing concise. Do you get a spontaneous work placement offer which is not ‘useful’ within your own study programme? Refer them to other study programmes or faculties (in Dutch) if possible.
  • Student associations can also play a role in finding work placements, for example the platform of the student association for engineers VTK Career & Development
  • The UGent Career Center (in Dutch) is a final important source of information. This online career platform can let students and organizations easily contact one another.  

UGent Practices

Last modified April 1, 2021, 1:25 p.m.