University is meant to open doors for graduates, but unfortunately in a lot of industries, your experience matters more than your actual degree. 58 per cent of employers rate work experience as “the most popular qualification among those presented” ahead of grades. Yuck!
BUT, before you have a breakdown, there are actually loads of ways to leverage your time at university by getting experience and standing out from other graduate candidates. Here are 5 easy ways to gain work experience at university…
Ask Guest Lecturers At University For Experience
You might think that guest lectures are a waste of time. You may even have spent the majority of them asleep in your flat, hungover as hell. That’s all about to change. Pull on your adult trousers, it’s time to step up.
Guest lecturers brought in by your university are often an untapped resource for students. Take note of who they are. Write down key things they mention that you can use to introduce yourself and connect with them on LinkedIn. (Say it with us now: using a personalised invite!!)
Go up to them after the lecture and start a conversation. Introduce yourself, mention something you liked about their lecture or something they’ve done in the past that you admire. Then, ask for advice or even if there’s any opportunity for work experience with them or the company they work for while you’re at university. No question is stupid show them your personality.
Look Into University Funded Programmes Or Internships
Check the spam section for your uni email, they normally contact YOU. Lots of universities now actually fund internships with companies that are exclusively available to your uni! To check what’s on offer, have a look around the employability section of your university’s website or email a member of staff.
Alternatively, look into companies that have or have had partnerships or communications with your university in the past. Your university likes to boast about these things. If you’re not sure where to look, ask your tutors or lecturers, take a stalk through your uni’s website and socials, or on previous students’ LinkedIn pages. Every university will have industry connections. Find them and use them to your advantage to gain work experience. We can guarantee hundreds of other students won’t be.
Pssst, you can also sign up to receive our internship email alerts for paid, flexible and remote internships that are perfect for students looking to gain experience at uni!
Search For Your University Alumni On LinkedIn
Your university can also help open doors in terms of creating familiarity when sending connection requests on LinkedIn. Look up alumni within companies you like or those doing jobs you’re interested in and connect with them. This will help open up your world of connections and get your posts in front of people who matter. A great but lesser-used way to get work experience at university.
Alumni are also a great source of knowledge, and can help you with applications to the companies they got graduate offers from – because they’ve been there and done it already. It’s worth connecting with your lecturers/tutors too! No, you won’t look like a try-hard, don’t worry. Check out some LinkedIn connection request templates here.
Join A Society Or Do Extracurricular Activities
If you’re lacking experience, joining a society at university isn’t only great for your social life, but also for building transferable skills you can talk about on your CV. Go for a leadership position, as this will give you the opportunity to try loads of new things and talk to new people.
Keep track of everything you do as you go along so you don’t forget anything when it comes to writing it up later down the line, doing it in your notes app is as good as anywhere.
Connect With Your Peers
Everyone else in your teaching group will be heading into the industry and going into different roles and companies. Now, unless they’re competitive and like gatekeeping things, some of your peers could hook you up with experience in companies they’ve worked for in the past or are currently working for.
It’s worth keeping up friendships with people on your course as you never know where they’ll end up. Try and help out others wherever possible too, as due to a lovely thing called reciprocity, they’ll be likely to repay the favour to you someday.
Essentially – grab any opportunity you can. Get creative with how you use university as a tool to create and find your own experience, god knows you’re paying enough for it. Ask for more and get involved in anything you can, this initiative and drive will set you apart from other applicants when it comes to finding a job. You never know where something will lead, so try as many things as you can while you’re still in education to get work experience at university and we have no doubt that you’ll SMASH IT!