Getting a foot in the door is key for job success after university
BAGGING a job after university is tough but one of the best ways to get a foot in the door is to offer yourself up for work experience.
“Being able to demonstrate structured, productive work experience is now almost an essential prerequisite for any graduate career,” says Phil Donnelly of Step ,which develops student and graduate placement programmes round the country.
As well as valuable hands-on experience in the real world of work, it will give you a chance to prove yourself to an employer, build your confidence, make contacts in your chosen industry and see whether you like the work.
And don’t just go for the obvious, giant firms. “There are more and more smaller businesses that are eager to take on bright, enterprising and hard working students and recent grads,” says Phil.
One of the key things to know about placements, or internships as they are also known, is that only some are paid.
The rule of thumb is that if you are performing as a worker, you must be paid at least the national minimum wage (£4.92 for those aged 18 to 20 and £5.92 for those aged 21 and over. These rise to £4.98 and £6.08 from October 1).
The exception to this is if your placement is part of a further or higher education course and lasts up to one year. If you are taken on as a volunteer, you’re unlikely to receive payment.
Even if your placement is unpaid, ask if they could cover expenses such as daily travel costs. If you receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, you can continue to claim if your placement involves less than 16 hours’ work a week.