Summer jobs: a guide to temping, internships and volunteering
Getting ahead of the competition
You won’t be alone in seeking a temporary placement or internship over the summer, competition will be fierce. “Follow up on your online applications with a phone call and email and use a recruitment agency,” advises Dan Hawes of Graduate Recruitment Bureau.
Author Jon Gregory recommends taking a personal approach to stand out from the crowd: “Be bold, talk to people inside organisations and maintain contacts. Be upfront about what you’re looking for, but don’t be pushy.”
Zac Williams, founder and director of GradTouch agrees, adding that a little self-promotion is important: “Make sure you’re selling yourself in your application/cover letter. Tell the employer why you want to work for them and what value you could add to their business.”
Coping with rejection
When faced with numerous rejections for employment or internships, the task becomes ever more daunting. Understanding why you were unsuccessful could help with the next attempt, says Julia Meighan of VMA Group: “Feedback is your way forward. Always ask for feedback, so you can understand from the employer’s perspective why you weren’t successful and then work really hard on improving in these areas.”
In addition to this, it could be useful to get further advice. “It may be a quick fix with your CV or application that needs doing, this is something your university or college careers service can assist you with,” says Michelle Poole of Birmingham City University.
Breaking the work experience paradox
A lack of prior experience is often cited as a barrier to gaining a temporary position or internship. However, there are ways to overcome this hurdle. Dan Hawes recommends playing to your strengths: “Assuming you have no work experience then you could approach this by asking what skills they require. Then you can give examples from extra curricular activities, sport or volunteering.”
Arther Ashman, talent development leader at Inspiring Interns offers his thoughts: “Starting off in a lower skilled role may allow you to move horizontally within the company.”
Turning summer work into a full-time job
For some, the goal of taking a summer internship is to get a foot in the door and gain a full-time role. John Gregory recommends persistence: “The only way is to keep going until something crops up and you win it, especially in your field. In the meantime, keep adding more experience by any means you can.”
Dan Hawes suggests looking at the roles that might be on offer at your chosen company: “Do more research beforehand. Find out how many ex-interns ended up full-time. Unfortunately some employers will take advantage of the supply of graduates and not see the relationship as long term.”
Tips for younger applicants
Summer is a great time for those just finishing A-levels to take the first steps into gaining practical industry experience. Motivation could be essential in securing a first position, says Arthur Ashman: “Enthusiasm is probably key here. At this stage, it is more about finding out what kind of roles you would enjoy. With any luck, many employers will be open to giving you the opportunity to shadow and learn about the industry.”
Jon Gregory recommends an “every little helps” approach to showing relevant skills: “There are a thousand things you can do which engage you with real people in the real world. You can use all those experiences, not only to show something about yourself, but as leverage to get some type of work, and then build on from there.”
For more information, please contact Julia Meighan.