Graduate employers in any sector will tell you that they don’t just look at the class and subject of your degree when you apply for a job with them – they expect you to have undertaken work experience too. This doesn’t always mean in the same field of work - any experience will give you an edge over someone with no experience at all.
Work experience can take many forms. Most students have part-time or vacation jobs at some point; often in customer service roles – shops, bars, restaurants, call centres etc.; these can be very valuable for developing your communication, interpersonal and teamwork skills, as well as showing that you are reliable, responsible, hard-working and adaptable. To get experience more related to future career plans, many students undertake work-shadowing, volunteering or unpaid placements; some succeed in securing valuable paid summer internships or ‘year out’ placements.
Sometimes this can appear to depend on having family contacts, networking, knowing how to produce a professional-looking CV and perform well at interview, and being in a position to work unpaid. Students from less privileged backgrounds are often at a disadvantage here, particularly if they are the first generation in their family to go to university.
The Faculty of Social Sciences has teamed up with the Careers Service’s Transitions Team to help tackle this. They are offering a number of work experience bursaries for UK Level 1 and 2 students from “widening participation” backgrounds (in receipt of a full government living cost bursary, and from a deprived area). Eligible students will receive an email this week inviting them to express an interest.
Last year this provided support to students working in law firms, a political think-tank, a Romanian summer camp, a marketing role in a South Americam food manufacturer, architecture and landscape architecture placements, and many more.
Other students looking for work experience should find it helpful to look at myVacancies, our online jobs and work experience database; our Finding Work Experience booklet on the Careers Service website; and to make an appointment with an adviser to discuss their plans or to review their CV.