Many degree programmes necessitate a year out from university, gaining hands on experience in the work place before returning to complete your course. The experience and knowledge gained through a sandwich course will provide invaluable skills to transfer to a permanent career after you graduate. That said, competition for the best work placements is fierce.
While a company may accept hundreds of applications, they are likely only looking to fill a small number of vacancies. So how can you make a winning first impression on your CV? And what skills should you look to improve before applying?
Raising money for charity is something to be proud of. So try not to miss out on adding this to your placement applications. You don’t have to raise thousands by running a marathon; planning a bake sale or charity auction proves you’re an ambitious and organised candidate. You can easily integrate charity with your hobbies/interests too, for example if you run or cycle, you can find an event and get some sponsors.
Don’t underestimate the relevance of your extra-curricular activities. Team sports such as netball, football, hockey (you get the idea) are the perfect way to demonstrate your ability to work effectively in a group. If your sports team has won competitions and accolades then even better! However, even if you don’t play competitively it’s still worth mentioning. Being in a team demonstrates you enjoy working with others, something that is essential in almost every industry.
A Hefty Portfolio
If you’re applying for a creative placement then a portfolio is a must. Put together every piece of work that has been published and make sure you make clear reference to this in your CV. Whether you’ve been published in the student newspaper or online, give your writing ability the credit it deserves.
Part Time Work
Although working weekends in a department store might not be directly relevant to the placement that you’re applying for, it still adds oomph to your CV. Holding down a part time job alongside your degree programme shows you have effective time management skills. There’s also all the host of additional skills gained which you can transfer to a placement year; customer service, sales, communication skills, to name but a few.
Relevant Work Experience
Of course any relevant work experience that you have is going to give you a massive head start in front of your competitors. Marketing work experience will obviously be beneficial for those wanting to pursue a career in marketing (that goes without saying). It would also be helpful for those desiring to go into business management or advertising. However, competition for work experience is often just as cut-throat as that for yearlong placements so apply early to enhance your employability!
So there you have it, gain experience, skills and knowledge via extra-curricular activities and stand yourself in better stead to achieve a great placement year. Always remember to be enthusiastic and manipulate any work experience (relevant or otherwise) to the demands of the job description. Last but not least, good luck placement hunters!
Do you have any advice on how to stand out from the crowd when looking for a placement year? Don’t hesitate to let everyone know below.
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Laura Beecroft is an English Language student and extracurricular activity enthusiast. She blogs to boost her CV credentials and aims to help you with that too.