Into the real world

Finding your place in today’s job market

By Emily May Webber

As UCAS tots up a total of 532,300 people entering UK higher education in 2015, there is an increasing need to stand out. With student numbers rising, and interviews growing tougher, your experience in the working world is worth its weight in gold. So, after seeing the hour of 6am for 20 consecutive days, here is my experience of interning, and how you can get ahead of the game.

As first year swiftly came to an end, it was not long before my friends and I were thrown into second year. Life after halls was another step closer to adulthood. We were attempting to manage our reading lists, gas meter readings, and the prospect of a summer work placement.

I have always had an idea of what I would like to do after I graduate. Some of my friends have not a clue, others have a rough idea, and some are already working alongside their degree. All of that is OK. Personally, I like a plan. I kept seeing posters around advertising a ‘Micro – Placement Scheme’ offered by the Royal Holloway Careers Department. I knew as a small fish in the big pond of the working world, having a foot in the door through the careers centre couldn’t be a bad thing. Having successfully gone through the process of CV training and interviews I was lucky enough to have been selected. Now was the waiting game.

After endlessly checking my emails throughout exam season, my advisor emailed me with a publishing company placement. It was with the publicity team at Simon and Schuster UK. For an English undergrad, publishing is competitive, and many have their eye set on a job surrounded by the scent of freshly bound pages.

For a month, I was thrown into the world of commuting. It is not unusual to see grown men snoring up against the window, elegant women with their trainers on, and a fold down seat opposite the toilet never looked so appealing. But despite the rush of hopping off one train and sprinting for another, slipping into a world where I was not longer considered a student was rather exciting.

It was the ultimate first day of school feeling. Sometimes the stigma with an intern can be they are solely making tea and clearing up after their colleagues. However, this was not the case. It was only a couple of days before my colleagues were asking me, ‘how do you like your tea?’ A small gesture, yet the feeling you are part of a team and not just the ‘intern’ is something I didn’t take for granted. Yes, there are times when you are faced with a mundane task, but those few weeks folding boxes or sifting through emails could make all the difference in the future.

Here are some handy hints to get that work placement and how to make the most of it:

  1. If you are unlucky with a place on the University placement scheme, do not stress. Do some research on companies you know of, and go from there. Find out who is best to contact, and send a polite and personal email outlining why you would like to work for them.
  2. Many of your friends’ parents, and course tutors may have connections. Chat to people on your course, and you may find a useful contact.
  3. On your placement, make sure to make simple gestures. Say good morning, offer a cup of tea, suggest meeting for lunch? All of these have a positive impact and will help you build new connections.
  4. Get a LinkedIn profile. After your placement, connect with your colleagues to stay on their radar.
  5. Thank you. A small thank you card or a packet of biscuits goes a long way.


Featured image courtesy Entrepreneur

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