Work experience

With the graduate recruitment market becoming increasingly competitive it’s important that your CV can stand out in a crowd. One of the essential things employers will look for on there is work experience. If they don’t see any then they may not even consider your application at all.

From working in a bar to gaining some practical experience in your chosen career path, a little bit of hands on work experience is the best way to let employers know that you’re serious about entering the world of work.

Part time / summer work
Getting a part time job is a great way to show future employers that you understand what it takes to hold down a job and is also a chance to earn some extra cash and make new friends at the same time. If you fancy a career in publishing, a bookshop would be ideal or, if you’re more sporty, why not a leisure centre or kids club?

Working in pubs or bars is a popular choice for students because the work’s often social and fun, but it’s also great on your CV. Future employers will recognise the fact that bar work can be busy and demanding and requires excellent social skills as well as a bubbly personality. All excellent qualities in a future employee.

Temp agencies are a great place to pick up extra work during the long summer months. It may just be stuffing envelops or packing boxes but the wage you take home at the end of the week more than makes up for your hard work. You may also get to experience a number of different roles - one week manning the phones in a busy office, the next filing important documents in a hospital. You’ll gain a whole range of new skills as well as displaying initiative and responsibility and it’s a great addition to any CV.

Become a Student Brand Manager. 
Everyone from The Guardian to Jack Daniels is employing brand managers within universities to promote their products. Tasks might include leafleting or handing out free cosmetics samples on campus. The job might be unpaid or low paid, but the benefits and freebies are normally worth the effort, and having a leading retailer on your CV can look impressive. Some companies advertise for brand managers through student job shops but, if not, a quick Google search should lead you in the right direction.

Volunteering is not just great for making you feel good about yourself, it looks good to future employers as well. But don’t be put off by thinking that volunteering is all about feeding the homeless or playing chess with the elderly. If that’s your thing then fine – but voluntary opportunities exist in all sorts of different roles working with all sorts of people.

Skills like IT can be put to good use, such as volunteering to jazz up the website for a local charity or helping to set up a database or network. If kids are your thing, you’ll find opportunities to help out with group sports and arts programmes and working for larger charities you’re likely to find all the same roles as within a commercial business - from public relations to accountancy there’s bound to be something that interests you.

The best way to find out about opportunities in your area is through your local Voluntary Action Bureau. Find them online or in the yellow pages. They’ll have a range of voluntary roles waiting to be filled and if there isn’t a job you fancy they might be able to put you directly in touch with charities with roles that could interest you.

Placements / Internships
Often the best way to show a future employer that you are committed to getting into their industry is to gain some practical work experience within the field. Your tutors or careers service should be able to advise you of friendly companies in your area that offer work placement schemes or, failing that, contacting companies in your area within your field of interest is a great place to start.

Shadowing a professional for a day can often give you an insight into the ins and outs of a particular job sector and help you understand better what will be demanded of you in a particular role and show future employers you have a realistic idea of how the industry works. 
Internships are a good way to see out the summer months doing something you enjoy whilst getting valuable experience. Although most are unpaid many will cover your expenses. Visit Shell STEP online, a UK-wide programme offering work experience placements for students across the UK or ask your tutors or careers advisors whether they can recommend any schemes locally.

Become a Student Gem is a website where students can advertise their skills to employers and individuals who may want to buy their services. The idea is that you get to make some spare cash whilst applying the skills you are learning throughout your studies to practical situations - building up your soft skills along the way. Employers get your services for less than they would have to pay professional practitioners and you get to build up a CV of practical examples of how you have put your skills in to practice.

Overseas Opportunities
Working abroad is great way to gain life experience as well as a great tan. You could find a charitable organisation that offers work abroad or go for a summer camp such as Camp America. Or why not just travel somewhere hot and work in a bar for the summer? They’re all great ways to show independence, confidence and learn a little bit more about different cultures along the way.