Career Jargon Buster

Tracey Dall
Friday 19 January 2024

The language used when describing careers can be confusing.  This post, written by Amy Kinsman, Careers Adviser, lists commonly used career words to help you on your career journey.  


  • Insight Days/Weeks: A short period of work experience to help you to understand what it’s like to work in a professional environment.  They are usually unpaid, because you would not be employed or expected to complete work.  
  • Work shadowing: The opportunity to observe a professional at work. This can help you understand what it’s really like to work in a particular profession. 
  • Internship: This is paid work experience which mostly takes place during the summer and helps build your professional skills. 
  • Work placements: Usually completed during term time, work placements are a compulsory part of some degrees. An example would be studying towards a medicine degree and being required to complete a placement in a hospital.  
  • Graduate Scheme: A structured, entry-level programme with an employer for recent graduates that includes work and training which can last up to three years. This can lead to a permanent job and professional qualifications. 
  • Micro internship: This is paid work experience which takes place over a very short period.

People who can support you

  • Careers Adviser: Supports you to make realistic choices about your career by providing you with information, advice, and guidance.  
  • Mentor: A mentor is an experienced professional who works with you to help you achieve your professional goals. This is different to a Careers Adviser, because the mentor will likely be working in or have experience of the industry you want to enter. 
  • Networking: Actively engaging with individuals in person or online to exchange information and develop professional contacts.


  • Magic Circle: An informal term which describes the five most prestigious, London-head-quartered multinational law firms. 
  • Big 4: The four largest professional services firms in the world. 
  • SME: A small to medium-sized organisation that has fewer than 250 employees.

Postgraduate Study

  • PGT (Postgraduate Taught): One of the most common types of Masters degrees. These courses usually last one year if studied full time, or two years if studied part time. The course will usually have several months of taught classes and then be followed by an intensive independent research project towards the end. 
  • PGR (Postgraduate Researchers): Usually a PhD, and usually take about three to four years of full-time study to complete. However, this could vary, depending on how long it takes you to complete your research and write your thesis.  


  • Scholarship: This is a competitive financial award that helps students financially with their university experience.
  • Bursary:  This is a noncompetitive financial award made that helps students financially with their university experience. 

If you are still unsure about any of the terms used or there are other terms you would like to know more about, then please book an appointment to speak with a Careers Adviser.  

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