Increasing student numbers at university makes entry in to the graduate job market very competitive. Research surveys, including those undertaken by High Flyers, highlight the large number of applications for graduate roles (sometimes as high as 70-80 applications for roles on popular graduate training schemes with the big national and international organisations).
Just having a good degree is not enough to give you the best platform to compete for graduate roles - which means work experience, work placements or volunteering is absolutely essential. Employers will be expecting you to have gained experience, articulate what you have gained, including skills you have developed that will be needed in their business.
The Work Experience team within Student Futures is here to help. Get in touch with your School Work Experience Officer (based in the Student Futures team) as early as possible in your studies but especially by the autumn of year two in your studies.
You may already be enrolled on a course with a year in industry and this is a fantastic way to move forward with your career and to gain the knowledge, experience and skills that will make you employable. Many graduate employers use the placement schemes as a year-long interview and if you do well, there is a very high chance you will be employed by that organisation. Even if you are not enrolled on a course with a year in industry you can normally switch to this option in your second year, spending a year on placement following completion of your second year.
The Work Experience team run a special Professional Experience and Placement (PEP) programme which will support you to find, apply for and secure placements. These sessions will run every second week through the autumn and spring semesters.
These run for eight weeks every summer, primarily aimed at penultimate and final year students and mainly undertaken with small and medium sized employers in Teesside. The great thing about these opportunities is not only will you get really useful experience but you will also get paid, and they are available in a wide range of different sectors.
Watch the Student Futures website for full details
These run for 12 weeks at different times of the year, including the autumn and spring, and are available to all graduates and postgraduates who are still looking to get established in the job market. The internships are offered with small and medium sized businesses in Teesside, are paid and are part of the ongoing support that is available to all students who have finished their studies.
You may be undertaking a module as part of your course that requires you to secure work experience, do volunteering or undertake an employer project. This is a great way to combine academic study with the development of skills and experience that contribute to employability. You will meet careers advisers and work experience officers as part of these modules, or they will be available at other times to help you make full use of what you are learning and with relevant aspects your assignments. This may include understanding the job market, researching a business problem, reflecting on your skills, how to present yourself to employers, writing CVs etc.
Another fantastic way of gaining experience, developing skills, gaining insight into different careers and having fun. The Student Futures team has an established service for volunteering (Volun-tees), with a wide range of local organisations.
Find out more
You will be considering a number of options as part of your course which include external internships based on the employer's premises (these are usually unpaid), employer-based projects where you will be based in the University, and research projects connected to your course. These last for three months at the start of your second year on the course. Because of the large numbers of students looking for external employer internships and the competition for places, you need to be flexible, very organised, seek advice early in your first year and be clear about what you are looking for and what you are offering employers.