The big wide world of work may seem alien after settling yourself into University. You may not be expecting to get a job for another two or three years. But you may struggle to stand out once you have your degree. How can you bridge that gap and make yourself even more employable? There is a way.
How about applying for a placement?
Placements and work experience can be a fantastic way to not only stand out when applying for jobs but can also give you a real taste of the working world.
One of the main benefits of a student internship is that as a student you can apply your classroom learning to the work environment. There will be plenty of opportunities in hundreds of fields so you will be able to find something that fits your niche. As well as flexing your skills you will also learn real-world competencies such as teamwork and good commercial communication, which are key skills that you will only learn by actively doing. Of course, any kind of extra-curricular addition looks great on your CV. Especially for second and third years, making connections in your desired field is ever so important. If you are attending a conference and you see your employer from your internship you can go over, make yourself known to their colleagues and perhaps use that role to boost yourself to relevant potential employers.
Placements are not only for the benefit of students. There are many ways that the employer will benefit too. By opening up an internship at a company you can gain a database of prospective students interested in the company. By evaluating the newcomers to your field you can source exciting new candidates for the future.
Whether a company takes on one or ten interns, there is always the potential that they may make a huge improvement to the team and might, therefore, be an ideal hire once their course has finished.
A placement is usually longer term. This can be a summer or even a full year working in the industry, taking a break from study. An internship is traditionally between a week and 6 months and taken along with your studies. A great example of this is the De Montfort University Frontrunners scheme; Sulets have had an intern from October to March and it has been a brilliant experience for everyone involved.
As well as a structured placement or internship there are other ways to get some valid real-world experience. Many companies will be happy to offer unpaid work experience to University students. This can be volunteering your time for a few hours a week. As this will most likely be unpaid it is important to be sure that you can spare the time and also that it is relevant to what you are wanting to pursue after University. If this is not an option for you then it would be wise to get a part-time job. You will still gain world experience and company competencies however it may not be as impactful but you will be paid for your time which is important.
There are many different ways to secure an extracurricular work placement. Your University should have a careers team. At De Montfort University there is a fantastic careers team that work closely with a range of teams within the faculty to get you the best-suited position. Another way may be to contact the company directly, some schemes will allow you to choose and pursue your own placement host so you have the opportunity to really sell yourself.
Gaining experience and bettering your skills is never a bad idea. If your contact hours allow you to work around them then a placement is definitely worth it. They are rewarding but time-consuming and you must be organised to stay on top of everything.
Want to find out more? Here is the account of our very own marketing intern. Read about her experience HERE.
If you are a DMU student have a look at the Frontrunners scheme HERE.
For Leicester based part-time work have a look at UniTemps HERE.