With youth unemployment making headlines, it is clear that CV building whilst at university is vital for access to the limited places on both internships and for a graduate job. Whilst first job expectations have been considered to be unrealistically high, I want to argue that such jobs are within the reach of students from any background and university, so long as they put in the effort and initiative.
Second year internships, whilst massively beneficial, are not the be all and end all and for first year students, good use of this summer can really help with developing and demonstrating the skills required for future work experience or internship applications. Too many students today give up at the first hurdle, be it unsuccessful past applications or the belief that if a work experience is unpaid it is automatically inaccessible to them. This does not have to be the case. The opportunities are vast and demonstrating to employers that you don’t just give up there can be incredibly valuable.
The University of Manchester has fantastic funding and bursary schemes aimed at helping people pursue work experiences that may go unpaid and award money in the hundreds to students with viable and beneficial (be it for degree or career) summer plans. Whether it’s an official programme or your own personal applications to work shadow, picking up the phone, searching the web or sending an e-mail can make all the difference, especially when combined with university or even governmental support.
CV building does not have to stop there however and sitting in an office over the summer isn’t necessarily the only thing a future employer looks for. With the emphasis on work experience being vital for first jobs, many students find themselves in similar positions to those they are competing against in their applications, all of whom have a couple of weeks work experience here and there. To think outside the box and demonstrate that you won’t just get the job done, but that you will contribute to a positive and interesting working environment is something that can make applicants that little bit different.
From charity fundraising, to career or interest based travel, or even setting up a small summer business, the opportunities for both an enjoyable and productive summer are vast and can all be covered through various forms of funding.