The Key to your Dream Grad Job? Spring Weeks, Internships, Placements…
The graduate job market can be a tough place to navigate, but luckily, there are some things that can be done to improve students’ chances. Many students will have realised that gaining relevant work experience for the industries and sectors they want to go into can give them a real advantage when job hunting, and there are several routes that can be utilised to gain quality experience to add to your CV.
For first year students, or second year students on a four year course, a spring/insight week is a brilliant way to get your foot in the door at a big firm, as well as giving you a great opportunity to learn the ins and outs of big corporations. These are placements undertaken during the Easter holidays and will give you a day with each different company department to see what you like, and what you think you will be good at. Most big banks will offer these courses. If you manage to secure one of these placements, it can fast-track you onto a summer internship undertaken in your second year.
Summer internships are generally offered by a much wider range of firms compared to spring weeks, which are usually restricted to just banks. Many roles will be offered in accountancy, advisory, fintech, technology, and government, to name a few sectors. Even non-finance orientated companies will have roles for many business students such as marketing, finance, and internal accounting roles. Personally, I found myself applying to companies such as Porsche, Unilever, and L’Oréal for these sorts of roles, which are all places I didn’t see myself applying to before.
To successfully apply to both summer internships and spring weeks, you will need a good academic record, proof of analytical skills and a proven interest in the sector you are applying to. The process of applying usually starts with a CV submission, so be sure to make the most of the University’s CV judging software, Vmock, and improve your CV until you get a score of above 60. Then, there are often psychometric testing questions, which can be practiced using the University’s access to the Graduate First platform, but also look out for events organised by the employers themselves. For example ‘Big 4’ accounting firm EY are running some training this coming week, but make sure you are signed onto the LUBS Employability and Opportunity newsletter to help find similar opportunities. The process finishes with online interviews, which can be practiced on myCareer using the shortlist.me platform, before you are hopefully offered a role. Additionally, for internship or year in industry roles, an in-person interview or assessment centre may be conducted, for which you may wish to book a slot at the Careers centre to practice face to face.
A year in industry is also a good alternative to a summer internship. Similar types of firms will offer these opportunities, with the main difference being that placements are usually around 11 months, compared to the 6 weeks offered on summer internship schemes. All courses at the University of Leeds can be extended to a four-year course to accommodate for a work placement undertaken in the third year. The process of finding these placements is much the same as finding summer internships and spring weeks.
To find opportunities, there are several resources that can be used. Firstly, a search on a company’s careers page on their website will show whether they have any suitable roles for students to apply to. Additionally, websites such as MyCareer, RateMyPlacement, or the Bright network will be able to help you find roles with a quick search. Something that is also worth trying is to utilise personal connections to try and secure roles as well. As the saying goes, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’! Using LinkedIn, you can see where other University of Leeds alumni work, and you can try emailing them personally to see whether they can help you to gain a role at their company. It can also be worth trying school or college contacts or family friends to see if any of them work in industries that you may be interested in.
Work experience is crucial in the graduate market now, so completing any of the above opportunities will add real value to your CV, give you points to talk about in interviews, and help you gain relevant skills and experience. For any more help or questions with respect to applications, make sure to check out the Careers centre website and note that they have booking slots available online where you can organise a meeting with a careers expert.