Workplace experience - work integrated learning in AUT programmes

Many AUT degrees include work integrated learning, a chance for students to complete workplace experience in an industry organisation, apply what they’ve learnt in the classroom and make valuable industry connections. This section covers how work integrated learning works, and how to find the right placement for you.

What is work integrated learning?

Work integrated learning is where your learning takes place in a workplace or an organisation, and you gain real-life experience alongside your academic studies. In most cases, your work integrated learning counts towards the academic requirements of your AUT qualification.

It's much more than just work experience – it’s a partnership between the student, an industry organisation and AUT to create collaborative learning opportunities through the exchange of ideas and experiences. You combine what you’ve learnt in the classroom at AUT with your experiences in the workplace; giving you valuable skills for your career.

Work integrated learning opportunities vary depending on which programme you’re studying at AUT.

They can include:

  • Cooperative education – for example in the Bachelor of Business or Bachelor of Sport and Recreation
  • Work placement or practical experience – including:
    • Clinical placements in health degrees
    • Work placements in the hospitality, tourism and event management  programmes
  • Internships or work experience in a field related to your major or study
  • Special industry projects with a supervisor or mentor

You can undertake a wide variety of work placements where you can experience the complexity of the real world, apply your classroom learning to real situations and problems, and develop professional skills in a real-life environment.

When you complete your workplace experience depends on what programme you’re studying at AUT.

You could complete placements:

  • Throughout your qualification, for example in the health science degrees
  • In your final year of study, for example in the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Business

In many AUT programmes you do your work integrated learning as part of a specific course in your degree. For example, if you’re studying the Bachelor of International Hospitality Management, you complete your workplace experience when you’re enrolled in the course HOSP797 Hospitality and Tourism Work Integrated Learning.

In most cases, work integrated learning counts towards your academic credits that make up your qualification. More information on this can be found in your programme handbook or in the AUT Calendar.

The length of your placement and how many hours of work integrated learning you need to do per week depends on what programme you’re studying at AUT.

For example, in some programmes students need to work at least 300 hours over a 12-15 week period. In the Bachelor of Business you work full-time (360 hours, 40 hours per week including breaks) over a nine-week period. In other programmes, you have a shorter placement and need to complete fewer hours of work integrated learning.

To find out the specific work integrated learning requirements for your programme talk to your programme team.

It’s important that the organisation you complete your work integrated learning with is approved by your AUT school or faculty. Each programme will have a different process and criteria to determine what organisations are suitable.

Organisations generally should:

  • Be relevant to the programme and subject you’re studying
  • Be regarded as reputable
  • Have the resources you need to do your placement safely and effectively
  • Be approved by your AUT school or faculty as your work integrated learning host organisation

This can include big corporates, small and medium enterprises, not for profit organisations as well as family-run organisations. Placements in health programmes will have specific health sector organisations like hospitals that are appropriate.

To find out what organisations are suitable for your programme talk to your programme team.

Mentoring is a key component of work integrated learning. During your workplace experience you’ll be assigned a supervisor or mentor in the organisation where you’re placed.

There are two parts to mentoring:

  1. Overseeing you in the workplace and giving you the proper guidance on what is expected of you during your placement
  2. Providing you with ongoing constructive feedback and discussing your specific tasks

Brief weekly meetings between you and your placement mentor are encouraged.

Thinking about finding the right organisation or opportunity for your work integrated learning can be daunting. Don’t worry; here are some tips to make the process easy:

Start thinking about your work integrated learning early

Start planning early. Think about:

  • What type of placement you would like to complete
  • What kind of organisation you’d like to be placed in
  • What would best support your future career aspirations

In most cases, it’s up to students to identify and find their own work integrated learning placement or project, but some placements may be organised by your AUT school or faculty.

Tips and ideas on how to find the right opportunity

AUT has lots of great ways for you to meet industry contacts and explore opportunities while you're studying with us:

  • Attend information sessions and drop-in sessions run by your AUT school or faculty
  • Attend career expos, employer presentations and other events
  • Visit the AUT Employability Lab on campus or check out Elab Online
  • Talk to your work integrated learning leader for your programme

Benefits of work integrated learning

By completing workplace experience you get:

  • Industry experience related to your area of study
  • Feedback and support from the industry people you’re working with and from AUT
  • Valuable contacts in your industry
  • Future career opportunities and potential job offers
  • A chance to put theory into practice

What our students say


Liam Morell

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Construction Engineering
“Our final-year industry project was one of the highlights of my time at AUT. It felt rewarding that we, as a team, could produce a report and a design. That was essentially getting a taste of all the different engineering consultancy sectors in one university project.”
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Ella Agnew

Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Management
“My workplace experience was with Netball Northern and I spent the year running the Northern Mystics social media accounts. It was an immense privilege to be part of this connection for fans all over the world. This was a highlight of my studies as I was able to grow my skills and connections in the ‘real world’.”
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Rachel Suesue

Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing)
“I love the variety of clinical placements – I've had the chance to work in community nursing, operating rooms, rest homes, mental health clinics and hospital wards. These diverse experiences not only improve my skills in each area but also help me figure out what I want to focus on in my future career.”
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Mohamed Abdulkadir Mohamed

Bachelor of Health Science in Health Management
“During my final-year workplace experience, I was given the opportunity to learn how our biggest healthcare provider operates at a ground level. I worked at ACC’s Newmarket office where I was mentored and given a chance to display my learnings in a practical environment. This helped me develop confidence.”
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Angie Sun

Bachelor of Arts in Conflict Resolution
“The workplace experience in the final year helped me bridge the gap between what I had learnt and how it applies in the real world. It wasn’t just about going out and finding work experience; AUT set you up beforehand with the skills to be able to find the right placement. I now work for the same company I did my workplace experience through.”
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India Rose Gallagher

Bachelor of Business in Marketing, Advertising, Retailing, Sales
“In my final year, I very much enjoyed my workplace experience where I could apply what I’d learnt in class in the real world. Being able to get a taste of a real marketing role was such an awesome opportunity and really helped me develop my skills.”
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Erin Marander-Higgins

Bachelor of International Tourism Management
“The workplace experience is an opportunity to get your first career-focused experience and make connections in your chosen industry. Although the idea of having to go out and find somewhere to complete a placement was daunting, it really helped in my personal and professional growth.”

Programme-specific information

Each AUT faculty and school has different processes and information for work integrated learning. It’s important that you find out about the processes for your programme.

Current AUT students can:

To prepare visit Elab Online

AUT students can visit Elab Online to book and attend employability events to meet industry contacts, and make an appointment with our specialist team to get ready for work integrated learning, including finding placements, CV checks and interview coaching.

It’s easy to log in – just choose ‘Current student’ and enter your AUT student ID number and password.


Contact us

Current AUT students

If you’re studying at AUT and have a question about workplace experience in your programme, get in touch with your faculty.



Want to offer workplace experience to AUT students? Contact us to find students for a placements