Experience has become a valuable commodity on the jobs market. However, sometimes paid work just doesn’t cut it. It does not give you relevant experience for the job you want after you graduate.
This is where volunteering and internships come in. It has been said that the younger generation will have a change of careers at least 5 times. This is where you begin yours.
Where to start?
First of all, you need to decide what you want to do or what field you want to experience. Maybe you have a set plan or a vague idea of the area you want to go into. However, it is perfectly normal to not know what you want to do. At universities, the careers team is always available to help you decide. There are dedicated parts of the website where you can arrange meetings with the team.
They are there to help you create your CV or to enhance it. Speaking to your careers team can seem intimidating but they will help you figure out your plans. And what a lot of students don’t realise, isthe careers team are available to help you after you graduate too. This emphasises the importance the university places on you succeeding. They are there to help you and you should take full advantage of them.
It is equally important that you suddenly don’t start thinking about your future plans a week before you graduate. I first went to see the careers team in my first year and they gave me advice on how to enter the museum sector. This was through volunteering and experiencing the industry. However, I soon realised after volunteering in that particular area that it wasn’t for me. That is another advantage of volunteering, it helps you realise what you DON’T want to do, as much as what you do want to do.
Once you have an idea of a particular area, volunteering can open your eyes to that area. Volunteering can be done through the university and is available in pretty much all areas. For example, with the heritage sector, the national trust is always on the look out for people to be room guides, a rewarding learning experience. Schools often take volunteers, but this does require additional paperwork such as getting DBS checked. If you find a company you like the sound of and you’d like to try helping out there then just email them. If you don’t ask you don’t know!
Volunteering through the university
Volunteering through your university is slightly easier than trying to organise it yourself but these positions are often snapped up quite quickly. This is why it needs to be thought about a good few months before you think you want to start. Many universities have a dedicated volunteer page, detailing the different types of volunteering available for students such as one-off volunteering, or just a semester’s worth of volunteering abroad! Basically, if you can think of it, the chances are the university can help you to go about it!
I volunteer writing for Tyfy once a week which has helped me to understand I enjoy writing and find it fulfilling. It’s a lovely team to work with and the application process was very easy. This interest which I didn’t know I had has led me to look towards careers in journalism. If perhaps you are interested in going into sales, then it doesn’t hurt to volunteer at a charity shop or doing window dressing, it gives you experience and looks good on your CV.
The next step
The next step on from volunteering is internships. This is generally done by students in the summer of their second year. But really there is no time frame and you should do whatever makes you happy. It is vital that you time manage correctly and not take on too much. In jobs such as journalism or management, the competition can be fierce so having an advantage such as interning at a named company can help you stand out.
I know I’ve mentioned CV’s a lot in this article. Looking at the articles online can also help. One of my fellow authors has written an article on how to write a good CV and I have linked this here. Any uncertainty you do have, I would recommend doing plenty of research and speaking to other people. They are there to help you and you will not be the first person to deal with getting experience, or writing a CV. People are there to help you.