27th September 2016

Where to next? Top tips for gaining that dream job

September often has an inevitable sense of change about it, and can feel like the time for a fresh start. This can be quite daunting when education ends and you have to make a decision about your next step.

Being one of the lucky ones that managed to start University before fees went up, going for a degree felt like a natural pathway for me. However, with rising fees, students are looking at new avenues for gaining the skills they need for the world of work and businesses are just as keen to explore other ways to discover talent and help close the skills gap.

During university, I gained experience in the PR industry in a number of different ways. Here are my top tips for gaining experience in the working world:

Try it out

Short-term placements give you a sneak peek into the world of work. These opportunities should be viewed as a way to find out what you really enjoy and what you don’t! Although it can be intimidating, getting to grips with how businesses work can not only set you ahead of the pack, it can give you the confidence you need to succeed when you find a job that you really want to apply for.

Build skills and connections

Consider working one day a week getting experience in a company or industry you’re interested in. I did one day a week in an agency in my second year and having long term exposure to the work they were doing helped me to get a better picture of the clients, their strategies and how a communications agency works day to day. Having this knowledge and experience helped me to gain a year-long placement, giving me even more experience to put on my CV. It’s also a great way to build contacts and if you wow them, it might lead to something more.

Find out what you really enjoy

One piece of advice I would give to students looking at year-long placements, is that if you’re unsure about what you want to do then it’s really important to be open minded. I ended up working in-house at a pharmaceutical company, something I would never have dreamed of for myself, and it really helped me to figure out what I wanted. As much as I loved my time there, it made me realise I love the buzz and challenges of working in an agency supporting multiple clients. The company also went through a rebrand internally while I worked there, and being involved in the process has made me want to learn more about branding since.

Do your research

If you do find a business or industry you really want to work in, but don’t think you have the right qualifications, then make sure you do your research and check. Many businesses are changing their entry requirements and looking for other qualities in candidates.

Qualifications on the job

If you’ve decided that the new university fees are too much or it just isn’t for you and are looking at other options, then don’t forget about apprenticeships.  Over the past few years, businesses in a host of sectors have begun to realise the benefits of training someone to what they need alongside allowing them to gain the qualifications to support them. With 29 per cent of modern apprenticeships being found in the business sector, there is a wide range of roles available to suit everyone.

And it’s not just in traditional office roles; In 2013 Tangerine started one of the first social media apprenticeships. The Juice Academy gives young people a way to gain a qualification and find a job in the digital world – skills that come naturally to them.

Apprenticeships like this don’t just benefit the apprentices learning, but also help to fill skills or knowledge gaps in their sectors, helping to secure the long-term future of the business.        

Make your mark

Always say thank you! Taking your time to think about how you do this makes all the difference. I’ve found my favourite cake recipe works well.  Just taking some extra time on this little detail can make them understand that you really do appreciate being given the opportunity and might help to keep the door open for the future.

By Charlotte Easton, B2B Assistant