Employers want to be impressed. They want students who get involved, take on new responsibilities and develop their skills. They want students who can evidence their skills and give specific examples. Which all adds up to experience and the trick is identifying yours.
Final year students often visit our careers office when they are applying for graduate positions. Many believe they have no work experience as they have not had a fancy internship or part-time work in an organisation relevant to their area of study or career. However, when gently probed by our career consultants, most students reveal they have had part-time jobs, supported their fellow students on campus, or volunteered their time in some way. It’s important to recognise that any work – voluntary, part-time, or a summer job – will have helped you develop different skills. It doesn’t matter whether you were picking blueberries, fundraising, flipping burgers, or serving at the checkout – it’s all experience and it’s all worthy of your CV. Obviously some jobs will require specific skills or knowledge but it’s the general competencies that employers like to see as well.
Let’s say you have worked part-time in a busy downtown cafe. You were involved in food prep, waiting tables and serving behind the counter. Possibly without even realising it you will have learned about the hospitality industry and gained insight into how this type of business is run and managed. If you did your job well you will have also developed customer service, communication and teamwork skills, and more than likely solved a problem or two and worked under pressure. If you helped train new staff or put forward new ideas, you have shown leadership, and as you were working while studying you have also demonstrated reliability and time-management. Plus you make a fine latte. All this from one part-time job!
As well as part-time work, consider what you have been involved with on Campus. Have you been a Class Rep, Campus Coach, on the executive of a club and demonstrated leadership potential? Have you done any volunteering in the community – helped with a cultural festival or cleaned up a beach, showing your social awareness? Don’t forget recreational activities – captaining or coaching a team, assisting at events, managing a club or group – it’s all great skill evidencing material and tells the employer about you.