I am in my ultimate year in my course and I couldn’t be more delighted to be nearly done and able to start (again - since I am 29) my ‘adult’ life, where I’ll be working full-time and finally GET A LIFE! I am sure many of you in fourth year share the same feeling!
The question is, how do you get in the real world and find a ‘real’ job with no experience to back you up? Well, in my case, I was lucky enough to have as part of my course a placement in which I had to work 20 days or 150 hours. Furthermore, I was lucky enough to be in a course which actually arranges speed interviews for employers and students to meet and have a 10 minute discussion on what each party is looking for and what each can offer on their part. Albeit, it does not mean it is less formal or you shouldn’t keep a professional profile. A cover letter and resume are mandatory, while showing professionalism, is something the employer would definitely be expecting. If you are unsure on how to put a CV together, you can get help by visiting the CV Clinic on the allocated days, along with getting guidance by the lovely team in the Careers and Employability department in the Student Services. The Careers and Employability department could also help you with guiding you on your search for a placement/internship independently.
*HOW MY PLACEMENT HELPED ME*
When I started working in the Public Relations agency I had secured my work placement with, I felt scared, uneasy, hesitant and confined due to my lack of knowledge and experience.
Unfortunately, I realised the theory we learn in class doesn't teach us the practical side of a job; or at least doesn’t cover every aspect of a job role. You learn how to be a ‘big boss’; but what are the little things you would do as a junior member of staff? And how can you progress to being the ‘big boss’ if you don’t know how to do the small tasks?
Well, it started with a ton lot of questions, little guidance due to a heavy work load on my superior’s shoulders and a lot of questioning myself. Initially, I would ask the account executive and senior account executive for guidance. A week later I was more confident to ask them if they needed help with any tasks. The week after that, I am happy to say, they would come to me with tasks that I could complete, after I had completed my morning daily tasks routine (i.e. keep track of client coverage and checking my emails). Later on I felt confident enough to speak directly to the account managers and directors, and ask if they’d like me to perform any tasks, contact organisations related to on-going campaigns or even do research. I was always guided on what to do, however as time flew I started getting more confident and took initiative.
By the end of my placement, I felt I could cope with regular account executive tasks and even spoke up my opinion in several brainstorming meetings. I didn’t want to leave. I felt right in place.
Many of the older generations may say that being an intern is hard and just ask you for coffees and perform secretarial tasks. However, in my opinion, more and more organisations give paid internships in the U.K., in which you are valued as much as a permanent employee and are treated as an equal. In some cases, that might not be the case. But still, I now know, that I am more confident with getting a job after my course is complete, and I have a deeper understanding on what employees in this industry are looking for.
So, before thinking that it’s not worth the time, or it’s not worth “working for free”, consider how much easier it’ll be for you to acquire a job and a reference, and if you’re good enough, you might even be offered a permanent position!