November 3, 2017, by Carla Froggatt
How I Found Work Experience While Studying – to the Ingenuity Lab and Beyond!
By Bhavishya Ramchander, final year, Management
You have just entered a competition with thousands of students at the University of Nottingham in the race to build a career. So, what makes you different? The merit you get at the end? The modules you studied? All those 9am lectures you persevered to attend? Yes, they all help your case.
But what will help you win? What you do in your spare time.
As clichéd as it may seem, it’s experience that counts. Experience helps you build a better CV and differentiate yourself from the rest. Relevant experience is best, but any experience is important. I learned this the tough way – I had applied for 76 summer internship positions for the summer of my first year at university.
By March, I had been rejected by every company at some point in the recruitment cycle. That’s when it hit me – no one is going to hire me with an empty CV. So I went along to the Careers and Employability Service to look at what I could put on my CV when I didn’t really have any experience. This led to me gaining experience at a start-up in London called Artesian Solutions, moving onto an internship at Nutri2Go in Nottingham during my second year, and finally landing a brand marketing internship at Ogilvy Public Relations!
I may have come a long way, but I still remember the frustration I felt with every rejection I received, despite investing painful hours on the application.
Here are five simple tips to get you started while at university:
1. Talk to the Careers Team
The University of Nottingham has one of the most knowledgeable and helpful Careers teams. There are so many opportunities on offer. Whether you want to talk about a career path, clean up your CV, write that tricky personalised cover letter or actually source an internship – the Careers team will definitely go the extra mile and push you in the right direction.
I worked as a marketing and social media intern at Nutri2Go, and it was an enriching five months; I got to work part-time during term time, with a lot of flexibility and freedom. The work ethic in the Ingenuity Lab really pushed me to work hard and achieve more. You can search for roles and apply here or read what other interns had to say about the Ingenuity Internship Scheme here.
We even had chance to try out our film-making skills. Meet my fellow Ingenuity Lab interns:
2. Get connected
Make LinkedIn your new best-friend. It’s like an online CV; get a professional photo taken, add all your qualifications and experience, and start connecting. Last summer, I set a goal of reaching out to new, relevant connections every week. Feel free to connect and start a conversation with me here.
3. Have examples on the tip of your tongue
There are a few magical interview questions that are super popular among employers: “Tell us about a time you exhibited leadership qualities”, “Tell us a time you worked in a group”, “What makes you different?” Prepare examples in advance, so that you aren’t caught off guard in an interview. To practise your answers, you can book mock interviews with the Careers team here.
4. Apply early and know your dates
Make a list of all the internships you want to apply for, and their deadlines. Some of the companies have a rolling intake, and some of them have a single deadline for their applications. Make sure you do your research and apply as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
5. Tell employers your story
At the end of the day, your CV, work experience and extra-curricular activities help create an authentic personal brand. It creates a story for you to tell. That’s what employers look for. They want to hear your story so far and how you will continue that journey in their firm. Finally, its originality, differentiation and preparation, which are the key factors that have helped me so far.
Thinking about an internship at a start-up? Autumn’s vacancies are now online and are available to all current students. The deadline for applications is Friday 10 November, so why not pop in and get your CV reviewed first? Book an appointment on My Career.