Exciting as the approaching long summer holidays may be, it is important to use at least some of the time to add skills and experience to your CV. When you graduate, employers will value any work experience you have gained as it gives you an insight into the work place, builds on your skills and demonstrates that you have been proactive. It’s also an opportunity to try out something you’re interested in and gain valuable experience, giving you a head start when you enter the job market. Most employers will ask about your previous work experience and what you gained from it on their application forms. Some employers use work experience as a way of ‘trying out’ a student with a view to offering them a job on graduation.
Work experience can be broken down into two different types:
Work experience/vacation work is often more informal and isn’t necessarily career focussed. It can be arranged through existing contacts, or involve temporary or part time work such as retail or office support roles. It can also be more casual, lasting just a few days or weeks and is not always paid. You can still take this route to get an insight into a particular career, however you won’t necessarily be working in the job you’re interested in (more than likely you’ll be in a supporting / assistant role). However it is a great opportunity to ask questions to find out more about working in the industry etc. Make sure you are enthusiastic and always willing to help out, as then you are bound to impress – you will find that opportunities can be found in the most unexpected places!
To find this kind of work, talk to the people you know – friends, family and contacts you have from any previous work experience or volunteering – they may know someone who can help. For example, if you had a part job in retail, you may be able to get work shadowing in the head office within a business area. Come to QM Careers for more specific information about networking and how to network effectively in the industry you are looking to enter.
You can also search for vacancies on QM JobOnline, as well as look for temporary work via recruitment agencies, a list of which can be found at www.rec.uk.com. Check out our Part time work handout for further tips and advice.
More structured work experience takes the form of an internship. These are usually offered by the bigger graduate recruiters, who take a set number of interns on each summer and have a tough application processes. The best interns may get offered a place on the graduate scheme, so they are very competitive.
Employers recruitment for internships around January/February time, however there may still be opportunities available. Check out JobOnline, Targetjobs, and Prospects.
See also our ‘Internships, Vacation Work & Work Experience’ handout.