Building on experience

Internships, Study Abroad and casual experience

For the vast majority of graduates, their university experience was about much more than formal academic study. Reflect on how your various other experiences alongside academic study changed and developed you as a graduate job candidate now.

Maybe you had one or more of the following:

  • a part-time role on campus working for a student service
  • you were a brand ambassador on campus for an external organisation
  • you experienced a summer internship in a business or charity
  • you volunteered, or you did several holiday jobs

Any casual work dealing with customers, clients or money is useful as evidence of skills development - a lot of graduate recruiters are looking for commercial awareness.

If you studied abroad, you may well have developed skills in areas such as cross-cultural awareness, resilience and flexibility. This is also true if you have experienced an international internship or worked for organisations over the summer such as Camp America or BUNAC.

Continuing to build

You may find that you have to keep building voluntary or paid experience before securing a first graduate job. This can be the case if you lack significant work or extra-curricular experience already.

There are also sometimes internal mechanisms within organisations to move up and onto a graduate programme. This is the case for many large commercial organisations and also in the public sector. It is possible to join at the level of a non-graduate role, prove your worth and then be offered an internal transfer upwards.

Acquiring relevant experience

Try to gain experience that is relevant in both a skills sense and a motivational one. If you want to apply in due course for postgraduate teacher training, gain additional experience working with either the primary or secondary age range. If you want a graduate career in NGOs, seek out an initial experience, preferably one which relates to the kind of community engagement you want in the longer term. If you are thinking about graduate entry to medicine, seek out work opportunities which involve caring for clients or patients. The same experience develops useful skills and serves as tangible evidence of wanting to progress in a certain career direction.

What our grads say

Name: Ellen Postlewait

Graduated: 2017

Studied: MSc Museum Studies: Artefact and Material Culture

Current Job Title & Organisation: Museum Interpretation Manager, Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC)

Throughout my rather unconventional educational career, by far one of the most valuable steps was volunteering and interning. All museums can use extra support, so don’t be afraid to cold call/email. The institution I volunteered at while attending UoG became my dissertation placement and the institution that I did an informal internship with is where I currently work. You get out of it what you put into it, so whether you are at an activity table in a quiet gallery or cataloguing matchbooks, make the most of it!

Ellen Postlewait profile photo