Warwick / Work experience

If only…3 things graduates would have done differently

regret_blue_person_190University can be a great experience: it’s a time to try new things, broaden your horizons and make memories that last a lifetime. Enjoy what’s on offer and you’ll find yourself in a win-win situation: having fun whilst accumulating the skills and experiences you need to compete for jobs later on. Just don’t leave it too late. Every year, some grads look back on their time with regret; wishing they’d got more involved, and taken time to prepare for life beyond the bubble. Well, hindsight is 20:20 so find out what our grads ‘wish they’d done’…

“I wish I’d got involved in extra curricular activities”

  • It’s never too late to rectify this one. Have a look at the SU societies page to see what’s going on. Getting involved with clubs and societies is a great way to acquire the skills and qualities employers are looking for. Team work, leadership, communication, problem solving skills – societies provide fertile ground for developing and enhancing these ‘transferable skills‘. However, you do need to become an active member; passive participation will not create the opportunities or experiences you need to persuade prospective employers. Don’t worry if you’re not a budding Olympian – there are over 200 clubs and societies, so you’re bound to find something that chimes.
  • Try to manoeuvre yourself into a position of responsibility: social secretary, treasurer…or maybe president? Not only will this provide rich pickings for future applications (great for competency questions) but it sends a clear signal to employers that you can handle responsibility and lead from the front.
  • You don’t need to stop at societies: if you’re politically inclined, there are campaign groups or perhaps you’d like to hone your journalistic talents by writing for the Boar, or contributing to RaW.
  • Have you considered volunteering? Over 10% of our student population are involved with Warwick Volunteers, many of whom find this enormously worthwhile and life-affirming. The projects are challenging and diverse and there’s plenty of scope for you to flex your organisational and management skills if you decide to apply for a position as project leader.

“I wish I’d applied for internships sooner”

  • In some sectors paid, structured internships are used to feed the graduate talent pipeline; if you want to compete (seriously) for jobs in banking and finance, you’ll need to go the internship route. And apply early in your second year. Most internships are open to penultimate year students, so you can’t afford to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.
  • Don’t get too caught up with the semantics. The term ‘internship’ has morphed into a ‘catch all’ word for a period of (substantive) work experience, but whether your interest lies in engineering, law or PR you’ll need to get some work experience. In some sectors you’ll need to be much more proactive in seeking out potential opportunities – speculative approaches may be the way in, so don’t sit back and wait for things to happen.
  • Try before you buy! It doesn’t matter if you change your mind and decide career success lies elsewhere. Work experience plays an invaluable part in shaping your career ideas. Finding out what you don’t want to do, is just as important as realising what you do.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, then come along to our work experience drop-in, 10-12 Monday to Friday in the Learning Grid (term time).

“I wish I’d used the Careers Service”

  • This seems to be a recurrent theme: every year graduates tell us they wish they’d used the services on offer. That’s not to say you won’t reap the benefits if you return to us as a graduate, but it’s much easier (logistically if nothing else) to make the most of the Centre whilst you’re on campus, or living nearby.
  • We’re not suggesting that you formulate a detailed plan of action mapped out for the next 5 years – starting early can pay dividends but it doesn’t mean you’re committed to a specific career path. Gathering information about different sectors, understanding what recruiters look for and using this intelligence to shape your university experience and build your CV, is time well spent. We can help whatever stage you’re at, whether it’s helping you explore your ideasfind work experiencepractise your interview techniquehone your CV or apply for postgrad study.
  • It’s not unusual for some students to claim our employer focus is too narrow, and overly reliant on the big corporate giants; this is sometimes (conveniently?) cited as a reason for career apathy, “there’s nothing here for me”. Well, it’s true to say the city and finance firms have a strong campus presence, but don’t let perception cloud your judgement. We are actively working with 98 of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers and have a flourishing sector event programme covering areas as diverse as retail, HR, arts, public sector, technology and international development. Add to this an increasing range of niche events available in your department; many of which are led by your careers consultant or in collaboration with target employers. So, what’s stopping you? Check out the schedule and come along.

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