The main thing drilled into us the minute we walked through that door to the first lecture of first year was – WORK EXPERIENCE IS ESSENTIAL.
It’s very true, though – we’re all going to be graduating with excellent degrees, sure. But it’s very clear we need to boost our CVs in order to get those precious graduate jobs when we leave. Seeing as I’m currently in second year, I’m in the process of applying for summer internships and in fact I’ve been doing so since October/November – it’s a really lengthy process! And once that’s over and done with, I’ll be starting third year in September throwing myself into grad job applications!
But I feel like I am getting there, slowly but surely, and I’ve picked up a few hints and tips from my friends about securing work experience and seeing as I’ve had a few questions from prospective Business Management students about this topic, I thought I’d share a few of these below…
- Don’t disregard unpaid insights.
Some people I know have refused to apply for insights offered by the careers service purely on the basis that they are unpaid. I think even unpaid insights are really valuable! I currently am a marketing intern for the Student Support Division at the university, and by completing six hours work per week during term time (one day a week – and I can even work from home sometimes if it suits me!) I have gained SO many transferable skills such as social media analytics, Excel skills, and post analysis to name but a few.
In a recent interview with Admiral I had, they said how impressive it was that I’d actively sought work experience at the Student Support Division – so unpaid work experience does not go unnoticed. If you see insights popping up in your inbox, apply for them as they are so useful! Equally – volunteering is a fab way to boost your CV and if you just click onto Cardiff Students you’ll see endless opportunities available…
- If you don’t succeed… try again!
In September 2016 I applied for a five month placement. If you take Business Management, you have the option to take your second Semester of second year as five months in industry working full-time. To me this sounded great, but considering there were limited spaces available, the process was very competitive and unfortunately I did not secure an opportunity that time round. I didn’t let it phase me, though – I asked for feedback for these interviews and used them to motivate and improve myself for the next round of applications for summer internships!
In such a competitive job market, you’re not going to get every job you apply for, and that’s OK. It’s just really important to not let it knock you!
- Network, network, network.
If you end up in the Business School like I am, you’ll be inundated with networking opportunities! Even the Career Fairs are essential as they allow you to talk to SO many delegates from companies you probably want to work for at some point in your career. Take advantage of having such easy access to people in the industries you want to get into – at best you’ll get some insider tips about job roles and life in the company, and at worst you’ll get some free pens and post-it notes and a LinkedIn connection. It’s win-win.
- Take advantage of the resources you have!
I’ll admit I didn’t find this out until the beginning of my second year – but the Careers and Employability department at Cardiff are actually amazing! You can attend drop-ins, workshops, have one-to-one meetings and ask basically anything you ever wanted to about the world of work. Then you’ve got the Skills Development Service at the SU which offer courses in anything from First Aid to Speaking and Presenting to Leadership in Difficult Situations. I myself have taken a few of these, working towards certificates in communication and leadership, and they have proved extremely useful and are really applicable to working life.
There’s also the Job Shop which are based in the SU too – once you sign up with them, they send you daily emails about part time work that’s available in and around the university – this could be bar tending at the Principality Centre or call centre/admin based work – all of their opportunities are paid and help increase your employability massively.
- Join the Cardiff Award.
The Cardiff Award is the university’s employability award and I would thoroughly recommend any Cardiff student to complete this if they have any interest in increasing their employability. You need to complete several requirements to get your certificate, for example attending workshops on CVs, cover letters, commercial awareness, LinkedIn etc, and completing a recruitment experience – this could be anything from a mock interview or a mock assessment day. I’ll have finished my award by March 2018 at the latest and so far I love how much I’ve learned from it and how much it has increased my employability. Also, considering the Award is sponsored by several large companies- think the likes of EY – you get access to exclusive careers networking events.
Plus, companies such as Admiral reserve one of their placements every year specifically for an Award student – meaning that I have been able to get shortlisted in the application process in a way I wouldn’t have been able to if I wasn’t completing the Cardiff Award. Good opportunities all round really!
That’s about it – but feel free to shoot me any questions if you’d like to know more about me, my course, or my time in work experience so far. I’m on twitter as @chloechiddle and Facebook as Chloe Chiddle.
Have a fab weekend,