Leading on from my previous post discussing whether work experience is more beneficial than a degree, I thought it would be best to discuss work experience in full.
Work experience, like I said can be very hard to achieve as there are so many people out there who are looking for the same thing. There are people who are willing just to have one day’s experience, just so they have something on their CV, but it really shouldn’t be like this.
Work experience and Internships are fantastic tools to get your foot in the door and to offer you some valuable experience in the relevant industry.
Even if you don’t end up working in the exact industry you completed your work experience in, it opens up your mind to the world of work and helps you make the adjustment from education to working life.
The biggest question is how do you go about applying for these work experience openings or Internships?
Working in HR I receive thousands of emails and requests for work experience from students who are desperate to achieve relevant experience in the summer months. It is heart breaking to think that there are hundreds of applicants to maybe one or two openings.
However don’t be disheartened. Many companies don’t have an official work experience or internship programme and will take students as and when business needs allow them too. This is fantastic for applicants, as if you make a big impression you are likely to get noticed and have an opportunity to get in!
Different industries go about things differently, and having experience in both corporate and media it is interesting to see the difference.
Big corporate companies, like banks will have a structured process, as they receive so many applications that they need to have a vetting process to narrow it down…this is understandable. This process may include telephone interviews, face to face interviews and tests. These are very hard to get through as like I said you will be competing with a lot of people. Its just the nature of that particular industry!
Other companies, such as the media industry are a bit more relaxed, you can approach people directly and you may be able to get in that way just by making a big impression with your CV. I remember a student sending in an interactive CV via a USB, it was so imaginative and caught so many people’s attention that he landed himself an internship. This turned into a full time role! So it is possible!
The first thing to realise is that your CV needs to stand out, no matter what industry you are applying to. Make sure it is clear and precise. All your experience should be in detail, really apply it and make it relevant to the role you are applying for. Even though it is a work experience position, you need to spend time on it like you would a full time role. If you do not have any work experience make sure your education can show your skills, such as team work, punctuality, work ethic and attitude etc.
Work experience may lead to more opportunities in the future or even a full time position, so it is very important to make a lasting impression!
Pay full attention to everything you are taught. I know you may sometimes be given dull t be disheartened, embrace it and turn it into valuable experience, try asking relevant questions to the paperwork you may be filing or scanning. Constantly show an interest!!
For the managers and HR professionals out there…There is nothing worse than an unorganised work experience programme, for the student and company to get the most out of their time, things need to be organised and structured. I think it is best to allocate the student a manager or buddy so they have someone to go to when they have questions. Having a schedule too will ensure that the student is always busy and learning new skills, this may involve rotating around different teams and departments so they get a real feel for the company as a whole, and the company also benefits massively! I also think it is important for the student to receive feedback at the end of their work experience or internship so they know how they did and the areas they should look to improve on when they go on to their next role.
The student should also have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience, as companies can always grow and improve their programmes.
You are not always going to be lucky to get a fully organised scheme, but make the most of being accepted onto a scheme, and try and ask as many questions as possible so you learn everything you can.
There are quite a few places to look online when searching for work experiences or internships.
My advice would be the company’s website and contact them directly, or apply directly to their scheme. This is the quickest way to get through to the HR/Recruitment department.
I would also say use who you know! I know this can be frustrating for people who haven’t got connections in the industry they are interested in, but if you know anyone, approach them and ask them if they can put you in touch with someone who could organise your work experience. Make the most of your contacts!!
There are also websites out there which specialise in advertising these schemes. Some of which you can find below.