You’ve slaved away the whole year, just finished those near impossible exams but joy is on the horizon.
Come mid June Uni is over, and summer may commence. Your group holiday is STILL being decided on, your wireless/reading/*insert festival here* tickets are in hand, the feet are up, and the sunglasses are on. Life is good. Well…before you get too comfortable, I’m here to ask you to hold that thought, and consider looking for work experience over the summer.
Why would you want to do that, I hear you ask?
Because the graduate labour market waits for no one.
Work Experience makes you stand out. It shows you’re proactive, dedicated and have gained hands on experience for your chosen career. It looks excellent on your CV/LinkedIn (I could talk all day about LinkedIn but I’ll spare you that and just say – Go set one up ASAP!) and will increase your employability in the future. It’s easy to stay focused on the present and just on having fun in the moment, and I hate to be a Debbie downer, but at the end of the day you came to university for a degree to allow you to secure a job in the future. Don’t put the job prep off until just when you need it because by then you’ll have a million and 1 other things to do.
Starting early allows you to use the free time you have, whilst you still even know the meaning of free time, to build your CV, narrow down your ideal career, gain knowledge and skills and of course increase your attractiveness to an employer over a similarly qualified candidate. It may not be fun (well I think it is), but it has to be done and the sooner the better.
Now the why is out of the way here’s the how.
1. Firstly, there’s our good friend Google. Search terms like x work experience in x (replacing x for whatever and wherever you’re looking for it). Sites such as Indeed and TARGETjobs could be very helpful.
2. Then there’s the incredible gift we’ve been given of the university’s careers website. They post lots of job opportunities and events year-round as well as boasting a database of graduates who sign up to be mentors for undergrads in a huge variety of career backgrounds.
3. Then, as mentioned before, my dear friend LinkedIn.
If you’ve been to any networking events in the past you 9 times out of 10 can find the people you’ve met on LinkedIn. These people may own companies or work for companies you might want to look for work experience in. Can you see where I’m going with this?
There’s no harm in sending them a nice polite message asking for any work experience/shadowing at their company or if they know anyone else in the industry that could help. People like to help people, they’ll want to help you.
And, if you’re profile needs a polish (or you need to start one) take a look at Aidan’s recent post on how to nail your LinkedIn profile.
4. Finally, last but not least, just email. Companies may have capacity for work experience/shadowing but just not advertise it. Email any local firms and ask if you’d be able to come and do some work experience with them. Do your research on them and show them that you’re worth their time. Be professional in your email, and email around it can’t hurt. To top that all off you can make more LinkedIn Contacts to possibly secure a job in the future!
Hopefully this has inspired you to go out and look for some hands on experience, however if unfortunately you can’t find any this year, use your summer to gain experience elsewhere.
If you want a career in marketing/media, start a blog over summer or film a travel video.
If you want a career in fashion, work in retail…etc. Find some way to do/produce something that can show future employers your dedication to the industry and make sure to make an online portfolio to showcase some of your projects on sites such as wordpress.com.
(P.S. please still enjoy your summer and don’t over work yourself)