Enhance your degree and get a head start in your chosen career by taking advantage of one of the many work experience opportunities available.
Finding work experience opportunities
Careers and Employment advertises part-time, project, contract and summer vacancies along with a limited number of internships. Make sure you log in to CareerHub so that you can be kept informed of these vacancies. Employers seeking specific degrees will also target academic departments so check departmental notice boards and keep in contact with your lecturers and tutors. Careers and Employment can also offer more advice on places to look for work experience. The Student Job Search site also lists part time jobs that will fit around your studies.
Making the most of your work experience
Having landed a work experience opportunity, how do you make the most of it? How do you ensure a successful experience? Here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Set goals you want to accomplish. Is it learning a particular accounting or marketing skill, learning a new software application, improving your customer service skills or building your network? Having a purpose will help to keep you focused on achieving that goal.
Some tasks may be boring and routine—and everyone has some element of this in their work. No matter how ‘menial’ the job might be, keep a positive attitude and complete all jobs in a professional manner. Volunteer to work extra hours to learn new skills or help someone with a special project. This will demonstrate your ability to go the extra mile and your commitment to the work at hand.
Work experience is a learning opportunity. The employer does not expect you to know everything. Always seek advice and raise questions whenever you encounter something unfamiliar. Be open minded about other people’s ideas and procedures.
Make sure you communicate frequently with your supervisor or manager. Ask for feedback on your work performance and share experiences and lessons learned—both good and bad. Make sure your supervisor is aware of your accomplishments.
Someone higher in the company who can look out for you, help you through the system and act as a sounding board for ideas, questions etc. A good mentor is worth their weight in gold. Someone who is willing to share their knowledge and enable you to be the very best that you can.
Meet people outside your section or department by personally delivering material to them and taking an interest in what they do. Attend social functions and/or join one of their social clubs if there is an opportunity to do so. A great deal of business is often done under ‘social’ conditions!
Don’t be afraid to contribute your ideas; thinking outside the square is a much sought after attribute—just be careful that you listen carefully and work in with others; there can be a fine line between constructive contributions and being seen as arrogant.
Keep a note/journal/diary of your achievements and skills learned. Use this to build up your CV and provide evidence of your performance.
Above all, enjoy meeting new people, learning new skills, facing up to new challenges. In the end, employers look for people who can not only do the work, but also really love what they are doing.