Vacation Programs – your gateway to a career?

Posted by Rohan Holland

Vacation Programs – your gateway to a career?

We hear a lot of our peers and employers talking about vacation (also called summer work experience or internships) programs. But what are they really and how do they benefit to my longer term career?

Vacation Programs defined...

  • Usually 8-12 weeks – depending on industry (sometimes 4 weeks for specific industries) 
  • Between November and February – to coincide with university calendar holidays 
  • Recruitment usually occurs from July-September 
  • Usually penultimate year students (i.e. second last year, going into final year next year) 
  • Pay rates are usually a percentage of the equivalent graduate salary in your field – something like 75% or so.

Companies do it for a range of reasons:

  • Is a great way to give students meaningful, paid work experience 
  • Gives opportunity to get a project or piece of work completed at an affordable pay rate 
  • Importantly, allows employers to get an insight into graduate talent at an earlier time, then enables them to ‘lock in’ students into graduate offers prior to the graduate recruitment season.

According to the AAGE employer survey last year, 70% of employers surveyed offered a ‘Vacation, Internship or Clerkship Program’ in 2011 AND 32% of employers filled MORE THAN HALF of their Graduate positions from ‘pre-graduate programs’ (such as Vacation Programs).

Employers who offer Vacation Programs are very serious about it. It’s a true talent pipeline for their business.

This means that Vacation Programs are critical to any graduate journey. Mainly because it provides you with the experience to both learn about the work area you are interested in (and have studied) and it exposes you to the employer for a future potential graduate offer. Even if you don’t receive an offer from the employer you do a vacation program with, it’s a great point of reference to use in future job interviews and assessment centres.

Just remember....Vacation programs usually require the same type of recruitment and selection process – because you are potentially a long term employee – so prepare for it as you would for a graduate process. It could be your gateway to your ideal career.

Rohan Holland

Readygrad - For coaching in graduate recruitment process and study to job transition – learn from the experts. For more information visit:


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