October 30, 2015, by International students

We do need work experience, a degree is not enough!


I have always been told how important an internship is for undergraduate students. That was why I worked my socks off in my second year. 

In the increasingly competitive global job market, everyone has a degree, extracurricular activities, some volunteering experience and of course, an internship. For me, an internship is not replaceable by anything else – not a part-time job, nor attendance in summer school. Internships offer students the practical perspective that your studies do not provide, numerous networking opportunities and a stepping stone for future job offers.

As a student who did not have any relevant work experience in my field, I found it hard to write up a page of cover letter and CV to convince my future employer that I am the right candidate, so I felt frustrated and let down, so I procrastinated (Don’t do that! I’m warning you, applications close really early!)

I went to the weekly career advice session ran by the Careers and Employability Service of the University, and was utterly impressed by their warm support and massive encouragement. They introduced me to the Culture, Language and Area Studies (CLAS) Work Placement, which is an opportunity for students from the School to obtain marketing and communications or film-related work experience alongside our studies for a semester. It was also a module for the Nottingham Advantage Award (NAA). By the end of the placement, we gained internship experience and were able to accredit 10 credits towards our NAA.

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We got the chance to learn about writing cover letters and CVs. After going through applications and I was finally placed in International Office of UoN. My marketing internship experience included writing blog posts, contributing to social media posts, filming and video editing, and setting up Facebook campaigns. I became more aware of office culture, gained knowledge in promoting higher education and developed communication skills. I learnt a lot, always wore a smile after work, and appreciated the opportunity. Yet I only realised how valuable my experience was when it took me to another stage of job applications.

When I read the job descriptions on advertisements, most of the requirements were what I have touched on during my internship with the International Office! Then I realised the placement was absolutely an enhancement of my CV. I had struggled to fill up a page for my CV, but after the placement and sessions on CV writing, I struggled to shrink my experience in order to fit everything onto a double-sided paper! The work experience enabled me to stand out from the crowd and impress my interviewers, and I was fortunate enough to obtain a summer internship with a video advertising company in London (finally)!

My summer internship was a work-from-home job, which means I did not need to go to the office, had flexible working hours, and worked wherever I wanted. At the beginning I was sceptical as to whether I would be slacking off or be working 24/7. Nonetheless, it trained me to be a more organized and thoughtful person. Being away from supervision means I had to be extremely self-disciplined and responsible. I developed myself by learning the principles of video advertising. Although I did not experience the classic 9-to-6 working pattern, at least I tried another type of work nature and equipped myself for future job applications.

I am grateful to have various interning experiences while studying in Nottingham. Job hunting is always difficult, so start building up work experience now. Even if you already have some, it doesn’t mean a job offer will just ring at your doorbell. Everyone has to go through some frustrations, receiving a few rejections, but keep at it until the final one opens a door for you!

Paula Chung, an international student from Hong Kong studying BA International Media and Communications Studies at The University of Nottingham.

Posted in CareersNottingham Advantage Award