As my internship draws to a close, I’m writing this blog as a recollection of the experiences and insights I’ve had over the past four weeks. I’m a recent graduate from the University of Bristol, having studied a Master’s of Engineering with a year abroad spent in Australia and reached out to Briony to gain further work experience. Based at Engine Shed, my time spent in the scale-up sector has provided invaluable networking opportunities and a greater understanding of post-university career options. Under the direction of Briony, I have been able to work closely with some of the scale-ups at Engine Shed and the wider community.
Are you looking for a summer internship? The UoB Internship Scheme may be just what you are looking for!
For those who haven’t heard of the scheme before, it supports students wanting to gain quality, paid work experience with Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. An SME is an organisation that employs up to 250 people and has a turnover of less than £40 million. This includes start-ups, charities and social enterprises, so there is a real variety of opportunities available.
Pay will be at least the National Living Wage. Our internships are 4 weeks full-time, or the equivalent 140 hours can be worked on a part-time basis. This is typically flexible and internships can be undertaken during term time or vacations.
Further benefits can include:
- Providing a competitive edge to your CV; standing out in the job market is increasingly crucial.
- Gaining transferable and desirable skills.
- Networking opportunities.
- Potential for extended employment.
- Providing work experience hours for the Bristol PLUS Award.
June 4th sees the launch of Before You Go Week, an intensive week of events, talks and individual appointments to help you make the most of the summer months – whether you are graduating, or coming back to the University in September.
We’d love to support as many of you as possible. Take our quiz to find out if you could benefit from coming in to see us before you go!
This January I will start my third campaign as a DLHE Telephone Researcher. I can honestly say that it is the ideal student job! The work hours fit around lectures, the pay is great and you get some valuable experience.
The advantages of working for the university are the flexibility and understanding around academic commitments. During exam season I could take shifts off on the day before my exams and, in the run up to big deadlines, I was able to request fewer shifts.
For some, the summer vacation is the opportunity to travel or volunteer in other parts of the world. Some will have been lucky enough to secure a summer internship in their chosen industry, and some will choose to earn money through a job seemingly unrelated to their career plan. If you fall into this last category, and think that your summer job is simply about saving up for the next academic year…think again.
Working in industries, such as retail, tourism and hospitality, offer you an excellent opportunity to develop, and provide evidence of, your employability skills. These skills, which are “the skills almost everyone needs to do almost any job”, were ranked by employers as the most important factor when recruiting graduates (CBI Education & Skills Survey, 2016).
Throughout your summer employment, take the opportunity to reflect on what you do, and look for ways to develop and demonstrate your skills. Doing this now will provide you with practical examples to provide to future potential employers when applying for graduate jobs.
Here are five skills you could develop while working this summer:
Customer service roles are an excellent way to demonstrate how you communicate. Think about all the people that you interact with (customers, colleagues, managers), how you communicate with them (face-to-face, telephone, email) and the purpose of your communication (greeting, explaining, persuading, listening).
Even if it is a temporary job, show your initiative by looking for opportunities to accept more responsibility or make a positive difference. Consider offering to train a new team member, or considerately suggest a new process that could improve sales or business performance.
- Readiness to Improve
Request feedback and act on it to improve your performance. Not only does this show professionalism and a desire to be the best that you can, it will help you to identify any areas for improvement before applying for graduate jobs.
- Problem Solving
This doesn’t have to be something worthy of a global news report! Solving a problem could be implementing a new email filing system that improves the speed of responding to client enquiries, or appeasing an upset customer.
- Team Working
Whether you are working for a small business or a large organisation, it is likely that your summer job will enable you to demonstrate how you work with other people. Think about how you cooperate with others to complete a task and how working together can improve efficiency or business performance.
No matter what job you do, make sure that you get the most from your summer job by investing time in reflecting on your experience, and updating your CV to demonstrate the skills that you have.
Whether it is work experience, an internship, part-time job, or your first graduate role, the first few days are crucial in any new job. You will make that all important first impression, and set the foundations for what you will achieve and get out of the experience.
Here are a few tips to help you find your feet and make the most of those early days:
It might seem obvious but…
Plan for your arrival on day one. Make sure you know who you are meeting, where you are going, and plan your journey. Arriving relaxed and on time will reduce some of those first day nerves, and ensure you make a positive first impression on your colleagues.
Do your research
Finding out what you can about your role and the organisation will make the first few days feel less overwhelming, and enable you to get going more quickly. Revisit your application, remind yourself of the expectations and why you were hired, and read up on anything that will help you build knowledge more quickly (e.g. the company website and social media channels).
Get to know your colleagues
Being friendly and engaging in conversation with your new colleagues will help you feel more at ease, and build the foundations for good working relationships. Find out who they are (though don’t expect to remember everyone’s name the first time round!) and what they do. Remember that as well as knowing who to ask now for help, it’s important to start building a professional network to help you get to where you want to in your career.
Learn and adapt to the new culture
Bringing fresh ideas and new ways of working is highly valued, but balance this with taking time to understand how and why things are done. Fit in with your new workplace by observing and mirroring the behaviours and interaction within the team. Is email or in-person communication preferred? Do people make small talk in the morning? Do people take it in turns to do a coffee run? While these might seem insignificant, they are valuable ways to quickly become part of the team.
Be open-minded and flexible
Take all opportunities to learn, gain experience and challenge yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be an active team member, find ways to contribute, and offer help – even if it goes beyond your job description. An open mind will only enrich your experience and set you up for long term success.
The first week in any new job will be exciting, challenging, and at times exhausting. Be patient with yourself, don’t expect to know everything on day one, and treat every experience as an opportunity to learn and develop. Whether temporary or permanent, this new job could be a stepping stone to achieve your career goals. Make it count!
There are a number of benefits of doing part-time work while you are a student. It can have a positive impact on your life both now and when looking for permanent work after graduation. Three benefits stand out.
Extra funds/money to help with living costs.
Obvious as it is, a part-time job is an effective way to earn extra money. Some roles will be paid at the National Minimum Wage, but some can be much higher. It will certainly help with your living costs, particularly if you’re having trouble making your student loan stretch throughout term. Extra cash can also open opportunities for socialising, travel and fun.
A part-time job can open a new world for you in addition to your university studies. It doesn’t have to take over your life. It can be something you enjoy as a break from academic work. It can provide opportunities for you to gain new life experiences, for example trying new things and meeting new people. It provides a platform for you to network, build social connections and form professional relationships – particularly valuable if you’re planning to continue living in the area after graduation. You may become friends with your colleagues, or sometimes even customers, for life.
Earning money can at times be challenging, but through this you can build resilience – an important factor in your future success. You will also gain experience of taking charge of your finances in a proactive way and establishing ways to manage your finances for your future.
Another great benefit is the independence gained through part-time jobs and taking responsibility for your own life. You may become a better planner or develop the ability to organise and prioritise what you value in life. You may also improve your ability to manage time effectively, which is another important skill that you can apply to your studies and to life after university.
Work experience and employability
Part-time work offers you a glimpse into the working world. You can use your part-time job to understand and get experience of an industry or a career you’re interested in.
Work experience also helps you to develop and widen the kind of transferable skills that are in demand by graduate employers, such as self-management, working with others, communication skills and being able to face a challenge and solve your own problems. By exposing yourself to a commercial environment, you can also gain customer and business awareness – both of which are highly valued by employers.
Finally, part-time work experience provides evidence you can use on your CV and job applications to sell yourself and attract employers. Having another string to your bow will help you to stand out from the crowd when it comes to job applications and interviews.
If you’re keen to take this further, you may want to think about the following questions:
- Am I eligible to work in the UK?
- What is my purpose in finding a part-time job?
- What employer locations can I get to? What are the costs, travel time and working hours?
- When am I available for work? What are my university timetable and other commitments?
- Where will I find part-time job vacancies?
- What do I need to prepare? What are my skills? Do I have an appropriate CV and cover letter?
- What else do I need to know – tax, National Insurance, employment rights?
Having a part job does mean you have to squeeze one more thing into your schedule, but stay organised and you will be able to balance the things you want to do and enrich the time you spend at university. Good luck!