The importance of building work experience and developing career confidence

Written by Tahira Majothi, Careers Consultant, Faculty of Humanities at the Careers Service

What a truly remarkable and history-making start to a new decade! In any given year, opportunities fluctuate in response to changing markets, environments and wider social, cultural, economic and political landscapes.

The pandemic has understandably raised questions about where to find opportunities, given traditional “student jobs” within industries such as tourism, hospitality and retail have declined. We want to reassure you that even in turbulent or uncertain times, there are opportunities for you to gain work experience, develop key skills and adapt to changes in the labour market. Indeed, students and graduates have worked as NHS volunteers, in supermarkets and other key worker roles such as the care sector. UUK recently published a report on what Universities are doing to help fight Covid-19. For example, mathematicians at the University of Manchester have been advising the government-using computer modelling on how to protect the public. You have helped in the labs, donated to local NHS trusts and provided support to hospital workers, as well as supported the ongoing research into the impact the pandemic has had on the wellbeing and mental health of young people.

This semester the Careers Service will be running themed workshops to help you to find work experience and advice on ‘How to succeed in the workplace’. Work experience can help you to gain industry insights, inform your career choices, help communities and can be a great way to earn money or develop key skills, boosting your prospects. Think of it as a great way to answer the question – “What skills did you develop during the pandemic?”

Maybe you are looking for work experience inspiration, a formal placement, volunteering opportunities or a virtual internship. Whatever type of work experience you are looking for; follow these keys tips to help you secure the work experience of your choice! 

  1. Be curious: think about the skills you hope you develop, the knowledge you will gain and the people you could meaningfully connect with.

Our first session will focus on how to ‘Build skills, get experience’ to evidence and promote skills and articulate experiences you already have and how they demonstrate your employability. It will also help you to understand how to articulate with consistency your transferable and adaptable skills across your CV, LinkedIn profile and job/further study applications as well as at interview.

  1. Be courageous. Ask for advice on how to gain work experience from anyone and everyone! Reach out to organisations you are interested in.

The following sessions will provide you with practical advice on virtual internships, Student Experience Internships (SEIs) and our Work Experience Bursaries for undergraduates, all of which aim to remove barriers and allow you to access work experience opportunities. We’ll get you to think about what employers are looking for, and in turn recognise what you have to offer an employer when starting work, such as your academic credentials, research skills, willingness to learn, adaptability, global outlook and language skills and cultural awareness to name a few. The sessions will also cover disability support and equality and rights at work, to help you to make a successful transition into the workplace.

Our workshop on ‘Build confidence-secure work experience’ will show you how to develop confidence when seeking work experience. Strategies will help you to learn to build up your confidence and understand how that confidence can make things happen for you.

  1. Be connected: Use LinkedIn to explore what other students have done and connect with possible future employers 

Creating your personal brand and investing in your online professional profile can enhance your career opportunities. LinkedIn for example is a great way to keep up-to-date with industry news, showcase your work experience and skills, see where alumni from your course are now working/studying, make connections with employers, request recommendations from current and previous employers or connections to name a few.

These sessions on work experience will provide an overview of our new or updated resources and support. Here in the Careers Service we know that students following these tips give themselves the best chance of success. All workshops will be advertised on CareerConnect, click here for more information on how to sign up for workshops. In addition, to find recorded sessions and past events visit our YouTube

Upcoming workshops and dates:

  1. Build Skills, Get Experience. 23-02-2021
  2. Student Experience Internships – FAQs. 24-02-2021
  3. Build Confidence and secure work experience. 25-02-2021
  4. How to succeed in the Workplace. 24-02-2021
  5. Creating a Personal Brand. 01-03-2021
  6. Virtual Environmingle 17-03-2021

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