Apparently nowadays paying £9000 a year and studying extensively (okay this is debatable), for three years straight whilst living off of a very tight budget just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, it’s a voice from employers that is getting worrying louder: a degree isn’t enough. Unfortunately for students in the present, the economy is not as fit as it has been in the past. That, teamed with the fact that more people are getting degrees, means that the job market is tighter than ever.

I’ve just come back from a university first year careers’ day and admittedly it’s put things into perspective for me. A couple of months ago everything I had done in my life had been a build up to university; now I’m here. And yes I’m still only in my first year but essentially I’m half way through and next thing I know I’ll have finished my degree.

So what advice did I get from this talk? Well firstly, use your time wisely. I study history, meaning that I only actually spend 9 hours a week at univeristy; a figure that will shrink to just 3 hours in my final year. This is the case for lots of humanity and arts students – but it doesn’t mean you should have longer lie ins or parties every night. Treat your day like a 9-5 job, or at the very least 10am. Get up, and make the most of the day – start with any university work you may have, because staying on top of uni work is key to being able to fit everything in. Then, any spare time you have: reject a nice nap or three hours of back to back catch up TV. Plan things to do in that time; if you’re interested in journalism – scroll through the BBC or a newspaper to keep up to date with things, maybe write a blog or an article for your student newspaper. If you’re more interested in something like science and maths – get on google or your university careers sites, there’s always hundreds of opportunities. You need to be looking out for internships and opportunities like there’s no tomorrow; because in three years time there won’t be.

Plan your summer. This is essential, because although you may feel exhausted from summer exams, after a few weeks you’ll have had enougn time to relax and recover. And yet you have 3 MONTHS OF NOTHING. Yeah sure plan a holiday or festival, but realisatically 3 months as a student is a goldmine opportunity. You can squeeze in a nice work placement or internship for at least a month. Summer’s also a great opportunity to get some volunteering in – you look charitable, willing to offer up your time, and you could get something fun out of it – I’m sure teaching in a school in Africa would appeal to a lot of people.

Marketing yourself is also really important. It doesn’t take long to write or edit your CV; you don’t want to leave it until the last minute when a job pops up and you haven’t written anything and have to rush it. Always have a CV on hand and even better, market yourself further by using social networking site LinkedIn. It may seem more complicated than user-friendly sites such as facebook or twitter but essentially its a career networking site; your profile acts like a CV – but it’s even better because you can add in things like awards you’ve received or projects you’ve been involved in; often the things that you can’t afford to prioritse in the confines of a one page CV.

You may have heard everything I’ve said before, but sometimes having someone put it into perspective helps. For example, employers now say you’ll struggle to get a job if you haven’t got any work experience. So even if you worked ridiculously hard at uni to secure your 2:1 or First, you won’t have many other skills. It’s important too, not just for your CV but for future interviews. What happens when you get asked about your ability to deal with the public? Chances are you won’t have had many opportunities to deal with the public during your degree; but perhaps your part time Saturday job did or your volunteering internship. Work experience makes you a more rounded and experienced person – that’s what employers like to see.

My word of advice? Speak to your university careers service. They can help with a range of things from career advice (perhaps you’re not sure what you want to do in the future) to setting up work placements for you. If you think you’re fairly clued up about what you want to do when you’re older, then you should also check our graduate job and work placement websites such as milkround.com or ratemyplacement.com which can help you to find jobs which match your criteria.



2 thoughts on “Jobs, Work Experience, Internships & CVs

  1. Excellent advice, it is an incredibly daunting prospect but so true, unfortunately.
    On a different note, you say you’re a history student – my brother is considering studying history but wanted to know what it was like. He can’t decide between that and Lit. Would you have any advice that might help at all? 🙂

  2. Dear trampstudent,

    Thanks for your comment & support on twitter – I’m very grateful!
    In reply to your query about whether or not to student History & Lit; it’s a tough one, and a situation I found myself in last year when I was applying for university.
    I may be biased but I do think history is a good degree to pursue – employers really like it because there is so much focus on analysis and research; so whilst it’s not a science it gets you to really think; Lit is more creative (not a bad thing) but unfortunately creative things often have a reduced employment prospect, such as art, music etc… History is lucky because even though it’s part of the ‘Arts’ it manages to escape the ‘artsy’/creative stereotype, if that makes sense.
    Also I don’t know what his stronger subject is but I always found with Lit it was a bit hit and miss, obviously you can make stuff up easily in Lit but it’s more one of those subjects you’ve either got or you haven’t – you have to be really unique with your opinions to get high marks. Obviously the same applies to history but I feel like points are easier to make – either a source is weak or it isn’t and you can use actual facts to back up your arguments, whereas English it can be harder to think of an original point to make.
    Also it’s nicely mixed, normally 50/50 girls & boys so you get to meet a mix of people, Lit tends to have slightly more girls (not that your brother will mind I’m sure!).
    But to be honest they’re both similar – at my uni English has slightly less hours, but both involve lots of reading!
    Hope that helps – if he has any more specific questions let me know, but whatever subject he chooses I would really advise him to read the course outline of each uni & subject before he picks – a mistake (very stupid I know) that I failed to make, I assumed history would be the same at all top uni’s – it’s not!


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