Job market / Work experience

Finding work experience this summer

plu_duck_190A good degree from a good university is a great start but that’s not the whole story. Emma from our Placement Learning Unit explains further….

Employers tell us that they look for:

  • Work experience, including part-time work through Unitemps, volunteering and placements.
  • A record of achievement, including society involvement, volunteering and sport.
  • The reflection and analysis tools to pull these together into a unique and personal “story” that can be versioned for different audiences.

Year on year we get feedback from graduates telling us they regret not thinking about their career earlier in their degree studies. Students without work experience are at a particular disadvantage in any graduate application process.

To intern…or not?

It’s true that if you want a job with a Times Top 100 employer, an internship is important; around a third of graduate jobs with these major employers were filled by former interns last year (The Graduate Market in 2012). You may feel that internships – particularly the formal, structured kind –are typically for students with a clear sense of career direction. This isn’t always the case and internships can be a great way of gaining experience, even if you decide later on to switch focus, but it’s important to remember that internships are not the only source of work experience.

If you are unsure what to do, or can’t find something that you think is relevant to your degree or career aspirations, remember that doing something is better than doing nothing, and a placement or period of work experience is certainly not tying you to a job for life!

What difference can a few weeks over the summer make?

What you gain is about much more than the placement itself. You’ll hone your application skills and experience the selection and interview process first hand. And afterwards, we can help you to think about what you learned, reflecting on your experience so you maximise the value you gain. The benefits are much more far-reaching than the placement itself. And, of course, employability skills like teamwork and communication – in tandem with a better understanding of yourself –will help bring your future applications to life, giving them real context and focus.

Finding opportunities

myAdvantage lists jobs and internship vacancies targeted at Warwick students. Many employers target just a few University websites, so if you aren’t looking on myAdvantage you’re missing a trick – being a Warwick student means you’ve already ticked one of their key requirements.

Other useful places to look include:

If you’re an Arts student, why not follow our Arts Twitter feed (@ArtsCareers) for current information about placements, internships and work experience opportunities. Perhaps you’re trying to source your own placement, in which case you may be eligible for a work experience bursary.

Finding work experience can seem really daunting, especially when you’re not sure what you want to do! Don’t let these barriers – perceived or real – stop you. Check out ourwork experience zone for hints, tips and useful strategies to help you overcome these barriers. And remember, we’re open all summer so you can always drop in and talk to us once your exams are over.

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