Recent research indicates that graduates applying to some of the UK’s leading employers stand a much better chance of being offered a job if they have already had some work experience with the same organisation – either through internships, industrial placements or vacation work.
In fact three quarters of graduate vacancies advertised by City Investment Banks are likely to be offered to graduates who already had some work experience with the same employer, the report by High Fliers Research showed.
Managing director of the consultancy Martin Birchall said: “It’s welcome news that Britain’s best-known and most sought-after employers are offering more jobs for graduates this year, particularly after a drop in vacancies for university-leavers in 2012. This latest research confirms that taking part in work placements or internships whilst at university is now just as important as getting a 2.1 or a first-class degree.”
A separate study published on Monday warns almost six-in-10 students finished university last summer without a graduate job because of the financial crisis, highlighting the intense competition for graduate jobs.
It’s not surprising that employers are going to be interested in your previous work experience and while this doesn’t have to have been a glamorous internship with an investment bank using your time at university to gain work experience is going to have a major impact on your future job prospects.
How can I get an internship?
There are a number of organisations which specialise in helping students to find good internships or other practical work experience. Instant Impact, a business run by graduates for graduates, helps students to find internships with small to medium enterprises. Rob Blythe at Instant Impact says “’internships offer students the chance to ‘test-drive’ a given sector. They are a great way of gaining valuable work experience and determining whether a sector is right for them, as well as making themselves more desirable to employers”
It’s sometimes the case that you need work experience to even secure an internship so think carefully about how you are going you spend your gap year.
You might take the tourist route around the Far East or Australia but spending some time helping to build a school in Nicaragua or constructing a community centre in Borneo may well be the experience that will help you to stand out from the crowd when applying for a vacation job or internship.
Organisations like Raleigh International can help you find exciting gap year or vacation opportunities that will also add some oomph to your CV and will definitely impress employers.
And don’t forget that even an ordinary holiday job working behind a bar or in a high street store can impress at interviews. Those jobs require excellent customer service, team work, organisation and communication skills all of which will be of interest to employers.
It’s a sobering thought that in this very tough recruitment market this year’s new graduates who haven’t had any work experience at all whilst at university are unlikely to get a job offer from the country’s most prestigious employers, irrespective of their academic achievements.
Plan to spend at least part of your gap year and university vacations working and ensure that when the “previous work experience” question comes up on application forms and at interviews you will have a story to tell.