Undergraduates: the importance of getting something tangible on your CV

If you are an undergraduate reading this and you don’t have any work experience, I would advise looking to start something asap. Unless you are coming into study from a mature background, it’s unlikely that you will have work experience before starting your studies, which can lead to a bare looking CV or Step profile, potentially putting you at a disadvantage.

While something related to your degree, such as an internship or placement, is ideal, there are also many benefits to be gained from a range of part-time, voluntary or Summer work.

One reason many don’t do any work during their studies is not needing the money, but please bear in mind that ‘why don’t you have any work experience’ is not an easy question to answer when you apply for a graduate job- if indeed your application is not automatically filtered out. And it’s not just about the money: voluntary work is also very useful, and has the added benefit of helping others.

You may be looking to concentrate on your studies, but I am confident that the majority of employers, certainly the ones we work with at Step, are not solely interested in academic results and would rather have a graduate with a 2:1 who has some work experience, over one who has a 1st but has not done any form of non-academic work.

Some students may not have a lot of spare time due to other commitments, but even an hour or two a week on a voluntary basis can give you something tangible to add to your CV.

And also think about whether some of the other commitments can be added to your CV. An example would be if you played sport for the University, as this shows teamwork, commitment, drive, discipline- and competitiveness which is an asset in many careers. Or you may have been an active member of a society, or helped organise an event- there are many possibilities.

So, try to make sure you get some work experience behind you, be proud of what have done and draw on it for applications and interviews.

Your University will have trained advisors and lots of resources to draw on too, so make sure you make the most of this valuable assistance.

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