The whole idea of coming to university is fairly straightforward: study for three, four or however many years your course lasts, get a good degree and then get on the career ladder in your chosen area of expertise. Easy as that, right?
Well, obviously it’s never that simple, and I’m definitely not saying that studying for a degree is a piece of cake. It’s far from it, but it’s a challenge well worth accepting.
A lot of people, however, seem to be under the illusion that all you need to get that dream job is a good degree. That is all smoke and mirrors, I’m afraid to say.
During my time at school, I went on a couple of different work placements in jobs that I thought I might end up doing one day, but I changed my mind like the wind so none of them ever stuck.
One of the many flashes in the pan was when I went to a business building and fixing computers: a far cry from the journalism career that I’m now pursuing!
At the time, you don’t think much of things like this, your teenage-self wasn’t at all concerned with getting a job!
It seemed that their only point is to help you figure out want you eventually want to end up doing for a profession. But once you get to university, and even before, it is vital that you start building a strong CV.
Over the course of this academic year – and towards the end of the last one – I’ve had an increasing number of people say to me that having a wealth of work experience and extra-curricular bits and pieces to your name are the things that are going to get you employed.
For example, employers will have so many applicants for a post-graduate job and, being post-graduates, all of them will have a degree in the same or similar fields.
So how are you going to set yourself apart from the competition if the degree is all you have?
I don’t just mean having a couple of days spent at one place during your first year, I mean having vast amounts of experience already under your belt.
There are no negatives to having these things on your CV.
It shows people that you have hands-on experience of working in ‘the real world’, that you are prepared to work hard for little or no pay as is often the case with work placements, and that you’re willing to go the extra mile and give it your all.
That’s not even an extensive list, it’s just a select few bonuses that it can bring to your job applications.
I had a slow start in terms of gaining work experience, but I’ve ensured that I’ve made up for that and now have a lot of things to add to my CV including working for two newspapers, a radio station, working with the BBC and holding this position here at the university. I’ve also got some work lined up for Sky News in May.
I’ve also done more things off my own back too, such as writing regular blogs for a football site and for my own opinion based page.
What I’m trying to say, is that there is plenty that anyone can do to better their chances of getting a job sooner rather than later once you’ve got that all important degree.
Don’t leave it all to chance, you’ll only come to regret it.
I’ll leave you with another anecdote.
One of my friends on my course dropped out of university at the end of our second year because he got a full-time job at a local newspaper.
When I spoke to him about the interview and application process, he told me that he was up against some very worthy people, but there was one thing that singled him out from the rest of them.
He had done several weeks of voluntary, unpaid work for another local newspaper and had articles published on a regular basis, and it was this that his current employers looked really fondly upon.
I think that story just proves my point perfectly.
Get some work experience sorted as soon as you can, and continue to build on that!