You’ve just started at university and careers may seem like a distant thought. However, to get ahead in the highly competitive graduate job market, it’s important to build up experience. In some sectors, it’s essential. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to start making connections and building your CV. From internships for first years to Insight days, here's what you can get involved with.
It’s no secret that the Investment Banking sector is fiercely competitive, so getting ahead early is absolutely essential. A Spring Week, or Insight Week, is a placement undertaken during the Easter holidays of your first year at university, designed to give you an overview of the work undertaken in the sector and some hands on experience.
Applications open in your first term of university – check out the Spring Week opportunities currently live on Bright Network. As they’re only one week long, it’s possible to do more than one, giving you a chance to compare the workings of different firms.
Spring Weeks aren’t just limited to economics or finance students – Investment Banks have roles available for candidates from all degree backgrounds. Whether you’re certain it’s the career for you or want to explore your options, it’s excellent experience which looks great on your CV.
Other Spring Insight Weeks
It’s not just the big Investment Banks who offer opportunities for bright first year undergraduates. The ‘Big 4’ professional service firms have Insight Programmes you can apply for – check out the profiles of EY, Deloitte, KPMG and PwC. There are also a handful of other week long opportunities with top firms, including Unilever and BP.
We strongly recommend you apply for as many opportunities as you can. The application process alone will help build your confidence and you will work out what leading firms are looking for in a candidate. Even if you decide a career in that sector is not for you, these experiences will put you ahead of your peers in your final years of university.
If you’re looking to carve out a successful career in Commercial Law, your first year is crucially important. There are only a limited number of Training Contracts available for when you graduate, and you can’t rely on excellent academics and your array of soft skills alone. Therefore, making connections and gaining work experience is a necessity.
Top firms will offer Insight Days which you can apply for in your first year. These give you the chance to meet partners, trainees and members of the graduate recruitment team at the firm’s offices. If you’re looking to secure a Vacation Scheme, this is an excellent starting point. There are opportunities most of the year round, so keep checking back on the website.
Firms offering first year internships
As a standard, internships are completed in the summer before your last year of university. In most cases you’ll have an interview or be offered a fast track application for the graduate role on completion. A handful of our partner firms do break this cycle and open up their internship for younger students too. Here’s just a few firms that tend to offer summer opportunities for first years:
Networking is a crucial career skill which will be useful throughout university and beyond. The best way to start making connections is by going to events or insight days in your first year. Large firms will often run events on campus or at their offices to help students boost their skills, find out what it’s like to work at the firm and ask questions to recent graduates.
The connections you make can be useful in many ways, especially if you go onto apply for the firm. Make a note of who you met, add them on LinkedIn and mention your interaction in your application form or cover letter. Not only does it help your application stand out, but it also shows the recruiters that you’re passionate about working for them.
Check out the events run by our 300+ partner firms on the website. Bright Network also runs events each Spring and September, giving you the opportunity to meet multiple firms in one day. To get a taste of the flagship Bright Network Festival, take a look at the highlights from 2016.
You’re never too young to offer your services to a charity or social enterprise. It’s an excellent way to do some good, whilst building your skills. There will be a number of societies which offer you these opportunities around your university and further afield. Local charities are also always looking for volunteers and it could give you the opportunity to have a real impact.
Utilise your connections
If you haven’t found a formal internship or insight day which you fancy applying to, there are lots of small companies that will be looking for bright students to work for them over the summer. Do you have any connections at companies who may offer you some work experience? Even if it’s for a week, this will help equip you for the working world and looks good on your CV. When you come to finding a graduate job, companies are looking for someone who is proactive and enthusiastic – and securing work experience will show these qualities off.
Bright Network can help
If you have any more questions about opportunities in your first, please get in touch with our membership services team – 0203 011 1612. They’re on hand to help you discover different career paths and give you application advice.