Work experience placements continue to be the best action you can take to improve your employability and enhance your CV. However finding one can prove difficult, especially when many companies require experience before they will even give you experience. So we’ve compiled a few handy tips below on ways you can find work experience and why it’s so important.
Why you need to get some experience
One thing I found when I started attending interviews was that your education only counts for a small part, what employers are really interested in is what experience you have. Therefore, having some sort of experience is no longer considered a ‘bonus’ it’s essential. I can not recommend enough getting as much experience as you can throughout uni, take every opportunity you can.
Enhance your CV
Your CV can look pretty basic with just your skills and qualifications on, but adding work experience will improve your CV tenfold. It also supports your ‘skills’ section because you can back them up with examples. When it comes to references, most people have a lecturer which is absolutely fine, but adding an employer who can vouch for you in the workplace is invaluable. Above all, it proves to an employer that you’re willing to put yourself out there and work hard to enhance your skills.
Interviews can be hard enough, especially when you don’t have any experience or you’re straight out of uni. But having some form of work experience can be absolutely invaluable in helping you answer questions. Referring to a time you have demonstrated certain skills or used a particular software with evidence will make your answer much stronger. A lot of interviewers even ask the question “tell us about a time you have…” so a work experience placement of any kind will definitely support your answer.
A work placement is just as much for you to decide if the role/industry is right for you as it is a professional deciding if you’re good for the industry. You might be undecided whether you want to work in-house or agency, so a work experience placement is a perfect opportunity for you to get a taster. Getting experience of a company can really tell you what you want from your future career which is possibly the most underrated thing about work experience.
How to find work experience
Sometimes employers include on their website an email address to contact regarding work experience. This is usually larger companies with a specific programme and will typically require you to fill out an application form. However some smaller companies also mention work experience opportunities so be sure to check their site’s careers section. Some companies also state that they do not offer work experience which will save you wasting time emailing them speculatively.
For any companies that don’t address work experience, try sending them a speculative email. Firstly, update your CV and ask someone to read over it (preferably a uni tutor). Next compose a cover letter style email explaining that you’re a student looking to get some work experience and think their company would be perfect. The core of the email can be generic but then add some personal touches in too, such as including the name of the company or even mentioning a recent campaign they’ve done. You can usually find something useful by scanning the company’s LinkedIn profile. You can copy and paste the core of the email and just change the personal touches to fit each company. Next you need to compile a list of local businesses/Marketing agencies and send them out. Sending speculative emails is incredibly time consuming, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Connecting with HR teams on LinkedIn and messaging them personally, in my experience almost always receives a response. Even if they end up giving you someone else’s contact details it’s still a step in the right direction. The perk of LinkedIn is that the person you’re messaging can look at your profile and should hopefully see that you’d be a great asset to their company.
You could also post an update stating that you’re a student looking for some experience and ask people to get in touch if they think they could help. Lots of posts like this get lots of likes/shares and people tagging businesses that could help. Sometimes getting a work experience placement can be a case of ‘who you know not what you know’ so your connections will be able to recommend you or share your post to their established networks. Also, include some hashtags at the end of your post so it’s visible to people outside of your network.
Speak to your uni’s career advisers as they might have some contacts that may be able to help you out. Often, HR teams are in contact with careers advisers at various universities and advertise roles through them. They may even be able to give you a name/email address and you can reach out to the individual expressing your interest in gaining some experience.
Getting work experience can be a lengthy and tedious task but DON’T GIVE UP! It will be absolutely invaluable to you and you’ll thank yourself in the long run. Good luck and let us know if you have any more questions about work experience!