Work experience & internships can be a key piece of your personal statement, making you stand out from the crowds. University admissions offices will use it to distinguish between two candidates with the same grades. However, getting good grades should always come before work experience so make sure your studies remain priority.
What work experience should I get?
If you already have an idea of the career path you would like to follow, then this is easy. If medicine is where your interests lie, try looking for work in the local GP Surgery or hospital. Ambitions to become a culinary connoisseur? Visit a local restaurant and see if a chef would let you shadow for a period of time and so on. Don’t worry if you are unsure, think of which subjects you enjoy and relate them to a job. For example:
English – Newspapers, Magazines, Publishing, Writing, Libraries, Teaching
Maths – Accountancy, Banking, Engineering, Computer Programming, Finance
Geography – Green Charities, Local Borough Town Planning, Environmental Sciences
Science – Vets, Pharmacies, Zoos, Laboratory Work, Hospitals, Teaching
Photography – Local News, Fashion, Portrait and Nature Photography, Processing Film.
You may not be able to find work experience directly related to your course or career choice- don’t stress. Any form of work experience in any industry will be appreciated, short or long, paid or unpaid. Employers and universities understand the time and effort that goes into organising, it shows your dedication and responsibility, regardless of the industry.
How to get work experience?
Getting work experience can be a challenge as gaining experience is a competitive market but approach it with a similar mindset to applying for a job. Present yourself professionally and showcase your best skills. There are a few avenues you can try:
Friends and Family. Word of mouth can be the most effective method. Someone will know someone who works in an industry you’re interested in- be cheeky! Ask if you can shadow them, even if it’s just for a day.
Ring Companies. If you have a specific company in mind, why not call them up? The worst they can say is no. If you don’t, try Employment4Students. Simply search the category you’re interested in to find internships, work experience and jobs in your area.
Go and See Them. If the company you would like to work for has an office or a store, get up and go visit them! It may be scary but if you go with a good CV and present yourself well (check out Promoting Yourself) they will respect your courage. It’s harder to say no in person as well!