Top tips for getting the job you want: The work experience ladder

Starting work might seem a long way off and you might be thinking: “Hang on, I haven’t even got my degree yet!” However, if you want to be in the happy position of having several jobs to choose from in your final year of study, then having extensive work experience on your CV can really improve your chances of success.

Many employers run summer or 12 month placements in order to select for permanent graduate jobs, so if you don’t win a placement you could really struggle to land a job offer from them. Even a short period of work experience on your CV is very valuable and can lead to you securing a longer placement of paid work. You can think of a ‘Work Experience Ladder’ in which each period of work experience helps to secure a longer or more relevant one, ultimately giving you the best start in your career.

Here’s how it might work:

  1. Summer after finishing school: you do a week unpaid working.
  2. Summer after your first year of university study: by emphasising the achievements of the previous work placement on your CV, you get a 4 week unpaid summer placement.
  3. Summer after your second year of university study: you get a paid 8 week summer placement.
  4. In your final year of study your CV is looking really good and several good companies make you job offers.

So it’s certainly a good idea to start thinking about getting a CV together now. Remember to give enough detail of your work experience and emphasise what you actively did to solve problems, rather than just what you passively learnt.

How can we help? At the University of Chester we know that getting onto the Work Experience Ladder can be tough, so we do everything we can to help you. At the end of your second year of study we provide you with a 6 week Integrated Work Placement with a local employer. For the new Engineering and Natural Science courses we will also guarantee you a 4 week summer placement at the end of your first year for which you will be paid £300 per week. This emphasises another key point: work placements can make a very nice contribution to your student finances!