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How to find work experience whilst at university!

Summer is just around the corner and for many of us (myself included), we’ve already finished with our academic year and have got a sunburn from thinking we “didn’t need sunscreen in Wales”. Though summer is a great time to finally relax and free ourselves from the stress and burdens of assessments and exams, it can sometimes feel unproductive. Last summer, I had a small part-time job I worked at for a few times a week. I also took one weekend off and went to a festival. Other than that, I was extremely bored. I couldn’t help but think I could have done something more productive with my time. That is why this summer I have decided to do some work experience.

Of course, I am still going to go abroad for a week (in Portugal no less!) and will visit some friends and ultimately – relax. But, I do in reality have a lot of free time and I thought what better than expanding my C.V and getting some valuable insight into my potential line of work. I could not recommend trying to find some work experience for the summer more. It is a great opportunity to learn or develop your skills, be more informed about what it is you want to do in the future and beneficially, get that experience on your C.V. Many people avoid looking for work experience because they think it may be a tedious, long and hopeless process. But I am here with a few tips and tricks to help you find some work experience this summer. If you don’t have the time this summer, find work experience during the academic year. Universities are usually very understanding of the time we must dedicate to gaining experience, as well as learning.

1. Start now
One mistake I made was hesitating when applying for work experience. I always said to myself that I would apply tomorrow or next week and I just never got around to it. There is no better time to reach out and ask for work experience than right now. Eventually, I woke up one day and panicked because I hadn’t sorted anything out and my third year of university was lazily rolling around the corner like a boulder. My advice is: do not panic, just sit down and start applying.

2. Write a mini personal statement/letter

There are many different ways people can apply for work experience. Many companies/people have their own application forms on their websites for you to fill out. What I decided to do was write a mini personal statement, talking about my experiences thus far and why I wanted to go into that specific field of work. I then explained how beneficial work experience would be for me and why I wanted to go to that specific company to learn more. This is the best way to sell yourself, take your time and just be honest. Consider talking about which skills you have and which skills you would like to develop. This shows you have taken the time to really consider why work experience will help you.

3. Compliment the people you want to work with

It’s always nice to receive compliments. So, I always recommend complimenting the company/people you are applying to work with. It shows that you are truly interested about what they do and how they do it and demonstrates your keen ability to learn. Of course, this will not automatically guarantee you a work experience position, but manners go a long way.

4. Send to multiple places you’re interested in
I then personalized each letter and emailed them to different places I was interested in working. It will always be quality over quantity, so make sure you are personalizing each email in terms of your interest in the specific companies/people and not just sending out a mass of generic emails. It can help to do a little bit of research around which companies you think would be best to help you, or companies you know people have had work experience at before.

5. Be understanding
Remember to not feel disheartened if you do not hear something back straight away or you do receive a few rejections. I was rejected quite a lot due to companies not usually offering work experience placements or simply being too busy. It’s important to be understanding and to keep trying. I mentioned in my email that I was aware of how busy companies/people were, thus I was not applying with nativity. This helps let them know you are taking a professional and understanding approach.

6. References
It will really help you find work experience placements if you have a reference. Some companies/people actually require you to have a reference when applying. I personally did not apply with a reference, but the application processes made me realise that I need to ask for some for future positions I apply for. You can ask your teachers, part time job managers or anyone you have done work for for a reference. Again, remember to be understanding and accept that some people will simply be to busy or do not usually write references. Stay hopeful and you will get some.

Hopefully, this advice can be of some help to you when thinking about work experience and hopefully applying. Feel free to reach out in the comments if you require any more advice about the application process and I will be at hand to provide my insight.

Good luck!


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