No placement? No problem. Alternative ways to gain skills for your CV

Written by Kareem Belfon, Student Communications and Marketing Intern at the Careers Service

“I don’t want to do any work experience just yet, I don’t even know what job I want to do!”

“I can’t apply for that, my CV is empty.”

“Shall we go to Factory tonight?”

These were all things that First Year Kareem would say on a regular basis. The last one probably a bit more than the others.

Having some experience on your CV is really important and getting onto a placement, internship or a few weeks of work experience is a really good way to gain those skills employers are looking for. If you miss out on these opportunities, there are loads of other ways you can beef up your CV that you may not have thought of before.



There are so many benefits to volunteering that I’d probably be here all day if I listed them all. Giving up your time to volunteer not only shows you’re committed to helping a good cause, but it also shows you can manage your time well. Whether that be helping run a student-led project, fundraising, volunteering overseas, providing academic help, sports volunteering or getting involved with a local charity, volunteering is a great way to develop your skills while giving back to the community.

One thing I didn’t know about volunteering is just how many different voluntary positions are available. For example, you could volunteer for a charity by running their social media page, providing administrative support or planning their events. These are all skills that can be proudly placed on your CV and talked about in interviews.

Useful links:

Volunteer Hub

The University of Manchester’s Volunteering Page

The Careers Service’s Volunteering Information Page

Become a committee member of a society:

Yes, I know, you’ve probably been told to join a society about 800 times since starting Uni. What I want to emphasise here is just how beneficial it is to try and get yourself onto the committee of a society. However big a society is, it needs someone running it. It also probably needs someone in charge of the money. And a secretary. Also, someone’s probably going to need to be in charge of the social media page too. Do you reckon you could do that? This is your chance to get some hands on experience leading people, making executive decisions and working under pressure. When an interviewer asks you to tell them about a time you had to lead a group of people, experiences like this will provide your perfect answer.

Useful Links:

UoM Students’ Union’s list of societies

Do It Yourself:

Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to jump out at you; create your own opportunities! Nothing shows initiative quite like starting something from scratch. You can:

  • Start writing a blog
  • Start your own YouTube channel and create your own content (Have you seen how much those Vloggers get paid?!)
  • Create your own society
  • Start your own business

Take ‘Funraising‘, for example. Funraising is a newly formed fundraising organisation that utilises its volunteers’ creative skills to put on events and raise awareness for current social issues. They work with journalists, cooks, DJ’s, singers, social media gurus and pretty much anyone else who wants to get involved. I spoke to one of its co-founders to find out what she’s gained from starting the organisation.

“I’ve learnt all sorts running Funraising – genuinely a little bit of everything. A lot about communication, not only in the realm of working closely with others, but also communicating to the masses, and using that to form a cohesive brand. Most importantly though, I’ve learned to be bold and brave, and to take every opportunity as it comes.” – Sophie Billington, co-founder of Funraising 

Be daring, enrol in modules that scare you:

I hate Excel. I’m sure Excel hates me too. We just don’t get along. That’s okay, I have loads of friends. I don’t really need any more.

In second year, there was an English Language module that focused quite heavily on data and the use of Excel. I could have easily avoided it like the plague, instead choosing another module that enhanced skills I already had. However, I bit the bullet and enrolled onto the stats heavy module. I knew that I’d never face my irrational fear of Excel unless I was forced to do it. I’m still pretty bad with formulas, but I’d be a lot more comfortable applying for a job that required me to use Excel after taking that module.


This can be applied to so many different skills. Haven’t done much public speaking? Take a module that asks you to create a presentation. Need to improve your leadership skills? Find a module that has some group work involved. Easy!

Find out more about gaining experience on our website.

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