Are you a first year, wondering where you can get an internship or career relevant experience? If so, here are a few things you need to know, and some of the best ways to find opportunities.
Finding internships as a first year student
It can be a tough task to find an internship in your first year, and unless you are looking in the right places and at the right time, you can miss what opportunities are out there. There are fewer advertised internships open to first year students, and it’s because many of the larger companies that recruit lots of interns want 2nd/pre-final year students, which can be frustrating. Why only them? It’s because these companies use internships as a way of talent spotting for their graduate programmes… they usually want you to come back and work for them after graduation, and if there is only one year of your studies left to go, there is less risk that you will change your career plans and join some other company after they have invested time and training on you. Some companies also require a certain level of skills, life experience or knowledge of your degree subject (e.g. engineering) before they feel you are ready to take a role with them.
So what can I do?
While the above is true of many larger organisations, it isn’t true of all of them, so it’s always worth checking if they don’t specify that roles are not open to first years. Check the organisation’s recruitment website, speak to them if you can, either at a fair/presentation/open day or via their recruitment hotline if they have one. But there are other options open to you too:
- Apply to internships and schemes specifically for first years
Some companies offer these, often calling them a ‘spring internship’ or ‘insight day’. These are often the larger corporates so if you are interested in finance, banking, law or IT or management careers these are worth a look. Be aware that closing dates are typically in the autumn, so apply early!
- Apply to smaller companies
Smaller businesses usually have a more direct need for your help in their business. You might be the only intern there, helping them with a new website, social media strategy or completing a project they just don’t have time to deliver. This need may be short-term, so it’s not automatically the case that they will have a role for you after graduation, but neither will they turn you away just because you are a first year. If you have the right skills and the right attitude, you can get your foot in the door just as easily as a pre-final year student. These companies usually advertise in spring, a bit closer to when you would start with them, so check CareersLink for adverts between now and summer! We will also be posting adverts on our Internships Facebook Group so follow us there to hear about the latest news.
- Look for sponsorships, sponsorships or bursary programmes
A small number of companies offer scholarships, sponsorship or bursary to students that are interested in a career with them. Whilst you have to commit to working for that organisation after graduation, these provide you with extra cash and a guaranteed work placement each summer (possibly an industrial placement too if it’s an option on your degree). These opportunities are quite hard to spot and have tight closing dates, so whilst you can do a google search, the best way to see those we have heard about is by following us on Facebook, both via your School group and the Internships and work experience group
- Take a casual summer job
Just because your work experience isn’t related to your ideal career doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Employers like to see lots of evidence for you working in teams, using your communication skills, problem solving, taking responsibility, and so on. It’s not what you have done, it’s how you sell it. So if you can’t find anything career related, don’t be afraid to do something else that can earn you money and put skills on your CV.
- Find other ways to get experience and skills
Part-time work can sometimes be career related. We receive details of part-time work in IT, translation & interpreting, marketing, administration and many other areas. For some careers (e.g. teaching, social work), volunteering experience is valuable, or even essential. Even if it’s not essential for your career plans, it’s great developing your skills and shows your commitment to supporting a good cause, so it’s well worth doing. Even better, some volunteering roles can provide career relevant skills like event management, administration, and marketing. Active involvement in student societies is also a great way to take responsibilities (e.g. treasurer, social secretary, president) and develop your skills.
Where can I get more advice?
If you aren’t sure on the best route for you or want to get something career relevant but aren’t sure what career path interests you, you can discuss options and ideas with our information staff or a Careers Consultant. Feel free to pop in or call us on 0161 275 2829.
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