Work experience, placements and internships are very valuable as they are great ways to gain experience in the field you want to work in as well as help you discover what roles you prefer. Finding and securing work experience, placements and internships can be daunting, so here are my top tips to help you with the process:
Start by doing general field research.
Firstly, narrow your research down to your field e.g marketing or physiotherapy. When you find a few specific roles you like, research those roles in depth. Think about what is most consistent with your career path and goals as the more relevant the role is, the better it prepares you for when the opportunity for your dream job comes around. There are many dedicated placement and internship websites. Brunel’s Professional Development Centre (PDC) has a super useful ‘industry A-Z’ list with field-related websites you can check out!
Extra top-tip: Don’t forget the basic Google search (e.g. graphic design internship + London) which also helps narrow down the search based on location!
Apply for multiple roles.
Always apply for a few roles you are interested in doing. Even if a specific company you are interested in does not necessarily offer a placement or internship in some form, there is no harm in contacting them and enquiring about it – they may be happy to make to create an opportunity for you!
Do not forget to also look out for deadlines of applications and make a note of all of them somewhere, perhaps in a spreadsheet. This also helps you organise and prioritise which applications you do first.
Tailor your CV to each role.
It is useful to have a CV template ready with all your information on it. However, when applying for a role, make sure to tailor this template to the role. You can do this by editing the quick profile section at the top to include key attributes and skills that the company are looking for (which you can often find in the job description). For example, ‘good time-management’ or ‘childcare experience’.
Extra top tip: You can further highlight these key attributes and skills by making the key words bold! Then in your previous work experience section, identify the most relevant ones to the role you are currently applying for and make sure these go first under the heading ‘relevant work experience’. All the other less-relevant work experiences are still valuable so keep them but put them under the next heading ‘additional work experience’.
Extra top tip: Check out the Brunel’s PDC tips on writing CVs!
Write a cover letter that demonstrates your skills, enthusiasm and passion.
Explain why you want the role and why you would be an appropriate candidate for the role. Market yourself as a solution to the employer’s requirements, back up a skill with an example from your previous work experience and demonstrate flexibility which lets the employer know you can successfully carry out the multiple different tasks that the role involves. Remember, be honest but always present yourself positively!
Extra top tip: Check out Brunel PDC’s tips on writing cover letters!
Be prepared for the interview.
Read over your cover letter, CV and the job description before the interview to refresh your memory and prepare you for possible questions the interviewers might ask. For example, popular general interview questions include: ‘Why are you interested in this role?’ and ‘what makes you a good candidate for this role?’.
Extra top-tip: Check out Brunel PDC’s info on interviews and different types of assessments (online questionnaires, etc)!
Use the support and resources your institution’s career service provides.
At Brunel University London, our experienced and skilful Professional Development Centre provides lots of support to help you secure work experience, placements and internships. Visit the PDC website, where you can find lots of resources and support. You can also contact the PDC team to book an appointment.
Extra top tip: Follow your career service’s social media and enable notifications for any news and updates about career related events they hold and helpful advice they share!
Always be confident in your abilities.
You have skills and knowledge you can bring to the roles you apply for (just look at your CV if you don’t believe me!). Your confidence in these skills and knowledge as well as your passion for your field will shine throughout your application and help secure that role.