Skip to main content

Develop Yourself

Once you have taken the time to learn about yourself and your interests, and have some ideas to explore, you might need to develop the relevant skills, or learn some completely new ones. Careers & Enterprise provides a wide range of opportunities for this.

Develop Your Skills

Developing your academic and employability skills is key to being prepared for your study and work during and after your time at University. The Careers & Enterprise Centre can help you identify opportunities to help you understand and develop the skills you will need.

You will have the opportunity to attend sessions that provide practical advice about skills such as, performing well at assessment centres, handling video interviews, developing digital skills, writing applications - enabling you to improve your understanding of the graduate workplace and providing you with the opportunity to learn and develop these skills while at university.

You can also develop your employability skills using our wide range of resources, including a work readiness assessment, and the Durham Online Career Planning Programme, which includes pathways on Knowing Yourself and Employers' Expectations, Exploring Options, Goal Setting and Career Action Planning, and Successful Applications and Assessements. Current Durham students and graduates can access these resources in the Quick Links sections on the Current Students and Staff and After Graduation webpages.

Build Your Work Experience

A good degree, even from a world-class institution, is not enough to secure a job when you graduate - experience counts!

In addition to your academic achievements, graduate employers want to see evidence that you are commercially aware and have the practical skills needed to excel in the workplace. Work experience is an excellent way to develop these abilities and has the added advantage of allowing you to 'test out' the types of job you might want to do after graduation. Although this may be a long way off for some, gaining work experience during your time at University offers that vital opportunity.

The Careers & Enterprise Centre can help. We advertise a wide variety of work experience opportunities, including placement years, internships, local part-time jobs and voluntary work.

We have a dedicated Work Experience Development team who create and run a number of work experience and internship programmes, specifically for Durham students. Taking into account the needs and interests of the student cohort, these programmes are intended to support students in gaining valuable work experience in highly sought after career areas. Current focus areas include social enterprises and SMEs.

The Work Experience Development team also run an innovative and successful widening participation and careers programme called Enabling Opportunities. The focus of this programme is to provide careers support to a small group of students from under-represented backgrounds who are seeking work experience. Encompassing a series of workshops, tailored one-to-one support and engagement with employers, the programme provides expert guidance and advice that aims to strengthen applications to work experience opportunities. The programme culminates in a period of work experience.

The Student Employment Service can help you to find and apply for part-time work both on-campus and in the local area.

Many employers value a broad range of skills that can be developed through part-time employment. We advertise a variety of part-time term-time and vacation opportunities, with high-quality employers, designed to offer you an important insight into your career area, whilst helping to develop your employability skills.

We host a number of events throughout the year, which are useful when searching for part-time jobs and work experience opportunities.

Complete a Placement Year

A Placement Year is an opportunity for you to gain valuable work experience during your time at University.

By undertaking a work placement you will be able to apply yourself fully within an organisation and trial a particular career or working environment that interests you. Extensive training is usually provided and the experience often mirrors the first year working in a graduate role. Placement Years typically occur in between the penultimate and final year of your degree and last between 9 to 12 months.

A Placement Year can help you:

  • Gain sector-specific/industry experience
  • Enhance your CV
  • Understand the culture of an organisation
  • Utilise your degree in the workplace
  • Discover a new city or country

In an increasingly competitive graduate job market, employers want to see that you have developed a wide range of skills throughout your time at university, which will be beneficial in the workplace. We are proud to be within the most targeted universities by top employers who provide a variety of placement roles that may align with your degree or to your broader careers aspirations.

Placement Year Support

We are committed to supporting you to find the best placement opportunities and have dedicated Faculty Placement Managers whose key focus is on increasing the number and variety of opportunities available to our students.

Working closely with your department, your Faculty Placement Manager will not only help you identify the correct role but also prepare you for the experience, offer guidance during your placement and assist you to reintegrate back into University life upon your return.

Durham Internships and Collaborative Enterprise "DICE"

The Careers & Enterprise Centre is working alongside a number of SMEs (businesses with <250 employees) within County Durham to create internship opportunities for students and graduates.

Each internship will work on a specific project focussing on the creation of a new product or service for the SME. The internships are across a range of sectors and are exclusive to students and recent graduates from Durham University.

The Laidlaw Leadership and Research Programme

The Laidlaw Leadership Leadership and Research Programme is a two-year programme and was established to build a community of leaders who can contribute effectively in all facets of society, and aims to develop highly talented and motivated undergraduates as global citizens and future leaders - supporting them to fulfil their potential and re-invest their skills in ways that will benefit others.

The main aim of the programme is to equip undergraduate students with the necessary research and leadership skills to help them fulfil their ambitions beyond their course of study, whether they intend to pursue a career in research or in another sector. We are looking for ambitious and self-motivated individuals with the capacity to design and conduct an original research project during the first summer of the programme, and to commit to developing their leadership skills, knowledge and behaviours through the accredited leadership development programme and engaging in a bespoke 'Leadership in Action' placement during the second summer.

The programme is competitive and up to 25 places will be offered in Durham each year. In addition to working alongside leading academics on a research project of your choosing, you will also undergo a leadership development programme, and have the opportunity to be able to put your leadership skills into operation in a way that contributes to various global communities through a 'Leadership in Action' placement.

The programme is supported by a generous stipend of up to £6000 to enable you to participate in two 6 week summer periods in both research and leadership activities.

Enterprise Skills

In today's world, developing skills that enable you to create impact is crucial, whether you intend to start your own new venture or move into employment after graduation.

At Durham University there are many opportunities, both curricular and extra-curricular, to improve your ability to generate ideas and identify opportunities, utilise resources and affect change. Through Careers & Enterprise you can participate in the following activities:


Work as part of a team to develop new ideas that contribute to one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by participating in GAME CHANGER challenges. Utilising insights from world leaders in design thinking methodology, GAME CHANGER provides the opportunity to:

  • Explore global problems and understand their impact
  • Generate ideas that contribute to one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Create a plan to implement your idea
  • Develop your teamwork, communication and pitching skills
  • Win a share of prize money

Enactus Durham

Enactus Durham is a student-led organisation that provides the opportunity for you to engage in real-world projects, both locally and internationally. You can support projects that empower people to improve their own lives and others in their communities through sustainable innovation.

Enactus Durham is part of the global Enactus programme, inspiring students to make positive change through entrepreneurial action throughout the world. In recent years, the team has received national accolades including the 'UK's Most Improved Team' award and Finalists of the UK National Competition.

Entrepreneurs Durham

This student-led society can help you develop an entrepreneurial skill-set, a creative outlook and commercial awareness. They do this by running workshops, challenges and events aimed at getting your creativity flowing.

As well as participating in their activities, you also have the opportunity to join their executive team and gain hands experience in developing and running activities.

PGR Skills Workshops

Careers & Enterprise offers a wide range of workshops, events and support to give Postgraduate Researchers the skills and knowledge they need to become more innovative, impactful and entrepreneurial. These activities are promoted through the Durham Centre for Academic Development.