‘Tis the season to think about getting a job! But there’s just one problem… how do you get your foot in the door if you’re a graduate with little to no experience?! Embarking on a graduate job search can feel like an impossible task. You want to put your best foot forward and land a great role, but you’re also lacking the work experience to showcase your ability.
Fear not – we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a peek at the best ways for graduates to gain work experience:
- Graduate schemes
- Graduate jobs
- Part-time work
- Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
7 ways to get work experience as a graduate
Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain valuable work experience. Many employers are open to hosting volunteers (why wouldn’t they be?!) which means you’ll stand a good chance of finding work experience in your chosen field. Even if you only volunteer every Monday for a month, this experience is going to stand out on your CV and show employers you’re truly committed to working in their industry.
2. Graduate schemes
Graduate schemes are a great way to kick-start your career, and they don’t throw you in at the deep end either. They slowly build up your skill-set with structured training over the course of 1-2 years. The screening process for graduate schemes can be quite lengthy and you’ll usually need to start applying at the beginning of your final year of university, ready to start working the following September. Graduate schemes are very competitive with just 12-15% of students gaining a place, so submit as many applications as possible and make sure you practise the most common interview questions before stepping foot into the interview room!
3. Graduate jobs
Unlike graduate schemes, graduate jobs are usually less competitive and have a much quicker application process that usually takes 4-6 weeks. Instead of going through a structured training program, graduate jobs provide more learning on-the-job but are a great entry point into the wider working world.
Internships are a viable option if you’re still studying and want to gain some experience before graduating. Most internships are paid (although they may not pay the best), but some of them are also unpaid. You can take on an internship part-time throughout the academic year, or even full-time during the summer holidays. The great thing is that they vary from one week to 12 months in length – so whatever your availability, you’ll find something to suit!
5. Part-time work
Working part-time throughout your degree is an awesome way of gaining valuable experience…even if it’s not related to your degree. Working part-time in a cafe or a shop develops transferable skills like communication and teamwork, and being able to hold a job down throughout your degree tells employers a lot about your work ethic.
6. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a government scheme that brings together 3 parties: a business, a university, and you, the graduate! The business will work with the university to find a suitable graduate who can use their expertise to assist with a time-specific project. The project can last anywhere between 12 and 36 months and can result in you being offered a permanent position. There are only around 300 KTPs per year – so make sure you keep your eyes peeled and stay on the ball!
7. Attend workshops
This isn’t technically ‘work experience’ but attending workshops is still a powerful way of developing your skills, applying knowledge, and jazzing up your CV. You can go to a workshop online or in-person, and you’re guaranteed to come out with more knowledge in your field!
The future’s bright
As you can see, there are plenty of ways for you to gain work experience when you’re fresh out of university. The trick is to start planning your work experience early (ideally in the second last year of your degree) and remember that any type of work experience is going to add value to your CV, even if it’s not directly related to your degree.
Not sure which direction to take your career? Follow our guide to figuring out your dream job to gain some inspiration.