'Tis the season... to get some work experience

Posted by Kate Murray on 12 November 2015

Are you one of those people frustrated by employers saying they need people 'with experience', not able to get work experience?  You're not alone; we meet people like you very often in our careers services!

From working with students for 10 years, here are my best ideas to help you break that cycle:

1) Start small!  Think of getting experience as being like building a wall: you need the first brick to help you provide a foundation for the next one, and the next one and so on. What's the most obvious thing you can do?

student searching online jobs boards. Copyright The Careers Group, University of London2) Look at your uni jobs board, or JobOnline. We have more jobs than most jobs boards and most of them on it are aimed specifically at you, a university student!  

3) Use a broad range of tags, or don't use any tags at all, when you're searching jobs boards for vacancies. Your brain is not the same as the person who uploaded the ad and created the tags for it, and you might miss something if you are too specific.

4) Don't forget your student societies. You might think it's a bit of a cliche having 'Committee member for the SnookerSoc' on your CV, but it could be the first brick on your wall of experience. 

5) Leverage those contacts!  Ask your mates, their mates, your parents, their friends, your tutor, your fellow SnookerSoc members, and anyone else you can think of, to point you in the way of a job.  I had a colleague once who told us the story of fellow commuters helping each other in their job search...

6) What about your uni?  Those Student Ambassadors at Open Days have to come from somewhere! Be prepared to plan ahead - they may well advertise before Easter for opportunities starting in September.

7) Can you be entrepreneurial and use your online auction buying and selling skills to demonstrate your skills?  I remember one person's CV showing they had a market stall selling vintage English china somewhere in Europe - good evidence of spotting an opportunity, following through, project management and so on.

8) While the summer internship opportunities offered by many employers are as competitive as their grad schemes (and in some cases are the only route to their grad schemes!) they often offer Insight Days, Open Days or weeks. There may be days or schemes for women or ethnic minorities too.

9) Can you join a professional body or other group (eg Society of Young Publishers, STEMNet, British Computer Society) which may provide networking opportunities, employer visits or similar?  Student membership is often reasonably cheap, the membership looks good on a CV, and these opportunities might also be those first bricks, as they'll look good to a future employer.

Doing any or all of these small scale activities should lead to something good the next year.  Good luck!

Go to JobOnline for vacancies



Topics: work experience

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