How to get valuable experience while you study
While in some countries the grade average is still king, most people will eventually find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to look for an entry-level job which asks for two years experience minimum. How can you get this experience if no one will give you a chance?
Well, there is an easy solution to this problem – get an internship. Many students shrug off the idea of internships or placements during their course. They think that they are not a good time investment and will detract from their course. They envision coffee runs and “busy work” that at the end of the day isn’t going to help them develop as a professional. So, how can you avoid the line in a coffee shop and really make your work placement work for you?
The first step is, of course, careful planning. If you want to choose an internship well, it is vital to know precisely what you are shooting for in your future career. You have to look at your ultimate goal and work backwards from there. One productive idea is to look at job adverts for your perfect job. Look at the skills and experience they are asking you for then figure out how and where to start getting it. Alternatively, if you know there is a specific company you want to work for in the future then try to find a way in.
Secondly, make sure that you don’t underestimate yourself during your placement. Taking the initiative and making yourself an indispensable member of the team will lead to you being given more responsibility. Try to work on projects which will provide you with manageable can-do statements for your CV. Think back to the first tip – you want to show you have demonstrable skills in the things that matter. And you won’t get those if you are spending all day photocopying documents for other people.
Getting some work experience while you are studying is the perfect way to enhance your CV, make connections with people working in your industry and try out different options before entering the job market for real. Take it just as seriously as your studies, and you will find that you will reap the rewards.