Easy and effective ways to get relevant experience while at university

“Experience is key”, “You won’t get anywhere without experience”, “Experience is the best teacher”, these are phrases you’ve probably heard a lot during university and if not, you will.

And there’s a reason, quite simply, there’re all true! Experience is key and the relevancy of this experience is important also but the way in which to obtain this is easier than you think.

Here are three types of experience building strategies you can implement:

Internships – This is probably the first that comes to mind for most students when they look for experience in their field and I don’t blame you. It can be one of the most effective and rewarding methods of growing your skill set, not to mention the possibility of earning some extra coin too🤑. But there’s a downside, unless you score a summer internship, you may find yourself juggling your time between studying and working as internships typically last between 1 and 12 months. This may have a detrimental effect on your studies, so understanding your threshold and what works for you is the most important, after all, university should be your number 1️⃣ priority or you can kiss that £9000+ a year goodbye 💸👋.

Placements – A great number of universities offer the chance to do a placement year as part of your course. It usually involves working at a firm for a 12 month period in between your first and third year of uni that either specialises in your area of study or provides relevant work during this time. If you decide to go for a placement year, having experience working at a company for an extended period of time, will definitely prove to potential employers your commitment and also would give the chance to make a real impact on the company you choose. Plus, if you really impress, there is always the chance of being offered a place in a grad scheme or even a permanent position 👀. However there can be downsides, these placement opportunities tend to be quite competitive, so starting early and broadening your search would give you the best chance of scoring a place e.g. consider small companies/ startups or local businesses. There is also the fact you won’t be in the same graduating class but more often than not, good friends will support you in all your endeavours 👍.

Extracurriculars – A great way of getting experience, whilst still at university and arguably the easiest to do. Universities nearly always have fun, interesting and beneficial activities to get up to through out your studies. These could range anything from hackathons, trips abroad ✈️ (my kinda extracurricular 😏) or smaller scale events like employment workshops and talks. Roping in your course buddies is a great way to socialise without losing out on valuable experience. Instead you have the advantage of building up your cv while simultaneously creating memories and having more opportunities to meet network. Perhaps the best part of all, these activities are likely to be planned with students timetables in mind, so the hard task of fitting different events around your studies is done for you! Amen to that 🙏.

Of course there are other ways of gaining experience that I did not mention for the sake of keeping the length of this article as reasonable as possible 😁 i.e. freelancing, shadowing, working at the uni cafe etc.

Ideally you want to have a combination of all of these to have the greatest edge over other candidates but that being said, having some relevant experience that you enjoyed and learnt from, is better than irrelevant or no experience at all.

To end, I have compiled a list of useful links for UK residents below that may help you build up that CV of yours:

Placements

Internships

Extracurriculars

  • Prospects
  • Check out your university website or speak to your lecturers/tutors about things going on at uni, it is likely you’ll find more relevant information to your studies this way.

Feel free to use the comment section to share any links to website you used or think are useful for students outside the UK too!

Happy hunting 👍

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