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Graduates today are finding it harder than ever before to get jobs after university, with an unprecedented 83 applicants to every vacancy at top firms. With the competition so high, it seems simply getting a good degree is no longer enough. It’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd, and one of the best ways to do this is through work experience and internships.
Not only do these student jobs give you the experience you’ll need to make your CV look impressive, they can also help you find a future career. As an English Literature student, there is no particular job waiting for me once I graduate. The same goes for many degrees, and luckily about 60% of jobs don’t ask for a specific subject. If, like me, you’re not completely certain what you want to do once you leave university, work experience offers valuable insight into a career, letting you see if it’s right for you.
There are loads of jobs out there for students looking to gain experience, and just as many ways to go about finding them. The best way to look for these placements is through student job websites, such as studentjob.co.uk, milkround.com and targetjobs.co.uk.
Those are just a few of many student job websites, and if you go to the careers fair during Freshers’ Week you can sign up to most of them there. The process is simple; you give them information about what kind of job you are looking for, and they email you jobs they think you would be interested in. The only problem is, there are so many options that it’s hard to find the exact thing you would like to do. It’s worth looking around and making comparisons rather than jumping to apply to the first job that attracts your attention.
I personally gained some amazing work experience through a student job website, and this August I am travelling to Berlin for a month to do travel journalism, visiting attractions and writing about them for a tour guide. There are plenty of work placements like this abroad, which can be a great idea for those who want to travel as well as improve their CV!
Another good way to get work placements is through independent applications. This is better for those who know what job they are looking for. You can find out if a company does work experience opportunities from their website or by calling them. Even if they don’t advertise an internship it is worth emailing to ask if they have any available jobs; one thing employers are looking for is initiative, and if you go out of your way to impress them they might just offer you a summer job.
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find a placement in the field you want to work in. As long as you are gaining transferable skills, it doesn’t really matter what the job is! As well as this, make sure that you apply good and early; typically if you want a summer job you need to be applying around Christmas time, though some deadlines are later. You’ll be lucky if the job pays or includes expenses, plenty of employers expect you to work for free and that’s normal. In some cases you might even be asked to pay them, for example if you work abroad, but if they do it’s important to make sure it’s not a scam.
To find out more about work experience you can go to the Careers Centre on the University campus, or go to their website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/sbs/ceec/.