Many students worry about not having enough work experience under their belt when applying for internships and graduate schemes. In fact, our recent survey reveals Bright Network members feel a lack of experience is the second biggest barrier to securing a graduate role.
If you’re concerned about the length of your professional history, fear not. University is the perfect place to gain excellent experience and build up your CV. Check out five things you can do this term to become more confident when applying for your dream job.
1. Become a Society Committee Member
University societies are run like mini businesses and as part of a committee you’ll develop financial, operational and communication know how – as well as many more key skills. Whether you’re President, Secretary or a general committee member, you’ll have an insight into some of the challenges and solutions senior leaders face in a successful company.
On your CV, focus on the impact you made as part of the committee. It doesn’t matter if your society is related to your degree or all about Quidditch – highlight your specific involvement in decisions, activities and events, and how you made a difference. For more CV tips, check out our latest advice here.
If you’re already part of a society, find out how you can become a committee member – usually by appointment or election. And if you’re yet to find your niche, why not start your own group. This will show initiative and entrepreneurial flair.
2. Volunteer for a good cause
Corporate social responsibility is a hot topic in the world of business and graduate recruiters are on the lookout for candidates who demonstrate concern for the world we live in. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with a good cause at university – student-led societies, local organisations and global charities such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross are very active on campus.
Sign up to volunteer with your chosen organisation and become an active member of the charity. Or why not do your own fundraising around a personal challenge such as a marathon. It’s an excellent way to show endurance and determination on your CV – core skills businesses look for in future employees.
3. Job shadowing
Learn about a sector or role first hand by walking through the working day with an existing member of staff. Your university has ties with a range of companies and organisations, with plenty of opportunities for you to gain useful experience through work shadowing. Pop down to your university careers service for a chat about options available to you.
You can also reach out to a local business yourself. Research companies of interest and get in touch via email or LinkedIn. You’ll be amazed how willing people are to help – it wasn’t so long ago they were looking for their first break and they’ll appreciate your resourcefulness. Don't forget to read our top tips on creating a professional LinkedIn profile before you get going.
4. Take on a part time job
Many recruiters look for transferable skills such as teamwork, organisation and problem-solving. You may think your part time bar job isn’t relevant but you’ll be acquiring experience that will come in handy in the future. Dealing with a difficult customer is shaping your conflict resolution skills. And when your manager’s off sick on a Friday night and you’re working your socks off to serve everyone, you’re demonstrating your ability to work under pressure.
Remember - a job is a job. Taking on work throughout university, even if it’s not in the sector you want to build your career tells an employer that you’re driven and hard working.
5. Strive for academic awards
The skills you’re learning on your degree will be useful throughout your career. Let your impressive academic record shine even brighter by being selected for an award. Most faculties offer prizes throughout the year for excellent coursework and exceptional exam results. Some awards are self-nominating - look out for opportunities to put yourself forward.
With so many students graduating with a 2:1 or 1st, a list of academic prizes on your CV will help you stand out and impress leading employers.