Many employers expect students to have work experience when they apply for graduate jobs; some won't even consider you unless you can demonstrate relevant experience for the role. The Careers Service, Student Jobshop and the Transitions Project are here to help.
Valuing your work experience
Gaining work experience as a student is one of the best things you can do to help build your CV ready for a career after university. It can make a big difference to employers, who want to see that you have the drive, commitment and skills to work. It also shows that you know what you're letting yourself in for; it’s a big gamble for an employer to take on a student who has no experience of what to expect.
Make sure you’re doing something
All work experience is worthwhile, so if you’re doing something you won’t be wasting your time but maximising your opportunities is important. If you have in mind what you want to do when you leave university, plan carefully how building your work experience can get you there. And if you don’t know what you want to do, building up a well-rounded portfolio of work experience and skills will keep opportunities open to you when you do decide. Through your work experience you may also find out what you do want to do – and what you don’t.
What’s out there and how do you get it? There are lots of opportunities, especially if you are creative about what you do and how you find it. The Careers Service and Student Jobshop can help you; there are resources on the website to help guide you and you can come into the Careers Service or Jobshop for advice and information. Getting your CV right is a good starting point. You can have your CV reviewed at the Careers Service, there's even a dedicated team of CV reviewers; contact the Careers Service and they’ll arrange an appointment for you.
Add value to your work experience
It’s not just doing the work experience that’s important. Being able to show what you’ve gained from it is the key to making it work for you. Keeping some kind of record of what you’ve done and the skills you’ve gained will help you prove what you’ve got from it. Being able to identify your skills and experience and how they translate to a graduate job is essential.
Taking part in the Skills for Work Certificate or the Sheffield Graduate Award will help you demonstrate to employers what you’ve gained through work experience; the Sheffield Graduate Award recognises exceptional achievement by the breadth of your skills, leadership abilities and your commitment to personal development. Whatever you decide to do, the important point is to make it count.