Making the most of work experience during university

Listed Under: Blog

Starting university is one of the most life changing and fulfilling experiences you will begin this year. Not only is it time to progress on an academic level, university really does help you grow and develop as a person (as cliché as it sounds).

With all the new changes, it’s easy to forget that university is the beginning of your career. The chances are you will have more time on your hands than you know what to do with, so it’s the perfect time to get some work experience and give yourself a head start.

Why? I have my whole life to work!

We can’t argue with that! However, if you get yourself in a job you love, work doesn’t seem like work anymore. One of the best ways to make sure you’re in the right job is to get some work experience. It works in two ways…

1. It’s great for your CV and for future employers

2. It gives you an insight into the industry

This probably sounds obvious, so let’s look at both of them more closely.

A “degree” of experience

After you graduate, finding work in something you actually want to do is the next step.  Depending on your industry, employers will want a degree, which you have, great! However, a lot of employers will also want evidence of experience too.  The tricky thing is getting work experience, which is usually unpaid, after university, when you start having “real world” out-goings to pay. 

That’s why getting work experience during university is so important. The chances are you’ll have an extended summer break so use it wisely. Lots of companies take on summer interns, even if just for a few days a week. Future employers will be far happier to see this on your CV too. Gaining work experience shows you are a competent and resourceful person, with a real interest in your industry too.  

Have a sneak peek

Getting some work experience helps you decide what you want to do and, just as importantly, what you don’t want to do. This is a great time to test the water, you have nothing to lose. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a week or three months, work experience gives you the freedom to explore an industry or a company. It’s the chance to learn as much as you can and ask yourself, “is this something I want to do?” Whatever the outcome, work experience, can only be a positive experience.

So how do I get work experience?

Depending on the sort of work that interests you, there are lots of options available…

Through university…

Many universities have industry connections, so be sure to take advantage of them. The course you’re studying may include the option for a year work placement either in the UK or abroad. While this may not be for everyone, it’s gold dust for work experience. A year working in your industry looks great on your CV and it gives you an insight into the everyday work you could be doing. They might even offer you a job after university! Check with the careers service at your university or the head of your department for more information on placements.

Get applying

Again, depending on your industry, there are loads of companies out there offering paid or unpaid internships.  Keep a look out on your local job sites, set yourself up a linkedin profile and approach family or friends who might be able to help get your foot in the door.

You can also approach companies directly. Lots of employers will happily take on students for even a week or a few months. An extra pair of hands is always welcome during busy periods and you’ll be gaining some important experience too, everyone’s a winner!

Get the experience edge

Getting as much work experience as you can will give you a major head start after university. Employers will look favourably on your degree, but even more so if they can see you’re determined to work in the industry and gained some experience along the way. You should have plenty of spare time during university, use it wisely and give yourself the edge!