Posts Tagged ‘Work Experience’

My Work Experience Isn’t Relevant – A Graduates Perspective.

4 months after starting my graduate job within the careers department I find myself sat at my desk considering how I actually got here. Looking back none of my work experience seemed relevant to my job. I was a cleaner for most of my time at university and before that I worked within the equestrian sector. But here I am working as a Graduate Careers and Placements Assistant, doing things I never thought I would be capable of.

So how did I get here with work experience which I felt was “irrelevant”? Often we find ourselves selling ourselves short as we feel like we cannot possibly have the experience to do a certain job. However jobs like the ones I did tend to give you a number of transferable skills and a unique perspective on working life. My first proper job was working within a branch of the HSBC bank as a cleaner, I had never had so much responsibility and at the time I didn’t realise how valuable working there would be.  I leant to take a pride in my work – the cleaner the bank was, the more I was appreciated which allowed me to be given more responsibility.  It taught me that I must stay organised, be professional and be able to maintain high levels of confidentiality, whilst ensuring health and safety standards were met.

You may think a job working at the local chippy won’t help you to gain a graduate level role but look beyond the obvious tasks of your job and think about all the different roles and responsibilities you have carry out that may be of importance to the company and enable you to meet the requirements of the person specification. Transferable skills can take many different forms such as:

  • problem solving
  • organisation
  • working to deadlines
  • management and leadership
  • negotiation
  • motivating people
  • making decisions
  • research skills

Next time you think a job sounds beyond the experience you have, look deeper and think about all of the small things that make you different from others and sell yourself; no work experience is “irrelevant” –  it’s how you sell yourself that matters.

Time to start planning your summer?


It’s long been a frustrating fact. When you’re a student you have long holidays and little or no money to go anywhere, and when you’re working it’s the opposite: a bit more money, but the time off in which to enjoy it is sadly curtailed.   With a bit of planning, though, you could have the best of both worlds.  How about working on a summer camp in the USA (several are currently being advertised on Career Hub), or working as an au pair or in hospitality in a Mediterranean resort? Check out Mark Warner, Summer Jobs Abroad and Gap 360 for further ideas.

How does it sound to have the beach or pool as your workplace?  If you are over 16, a good swimmer and can stay focused in an emergency, then working as a lifeguard might be the ideal job for you.  You could either work in a pool (outdoor options possible in the summer) or on one of the 200 lifeguarded beaches around the UK.  It is also a highly portable qualification if you want to work abroad or find part-time work while studying.  Find out more about beach lifeguarding from the RNLI and about pool lifeguarding from the RLSS.  Incidentally, you can qualify as a pool lifeguard at UH – the next course starts in April.

You could use your summer to test out a future career.  If you are considering teaching, Teach First offers taster days, or you could contact local schools to find work experience – the Schools Web Directory has a database searchable by location.  Inspiring Interns has short-term openings, as has Employment for Students e4s. Formal vacation schemes are highly-prized, offering an insight into an employer and, if you perform well, the chance of a longer-term job.  Inspiring Interns, Career Hub and Rate my Placement can all be good starting places to look.

For more ideas, come along to our Work Experience Fair on Wednesday 16 March in the Atrium on de Havilland. Around 30 organizations offering jobs or work experience at home and abroad will be on hand to tell you more. Career Hub has full details.


Life as a placement student: December – Deadlines and Deliveries




A little late now but hope I you all had a fabulous Christmas and a happy New Year! I’m now well into the painful January detox after a month of eating and partying. I can safely say I’m not missing the January exams you’re currently going through (good luck!), but I especially miss having Reading Week aka ‘re-freshers’ to you lot. December at Sky was magical – we had our own Christmas market, petting zoo and even a visit from a life-size Hulkbuster! We were also taken out for a delicious Christmas lunch with the team at The White Hart, Barnes Bridge.



The last 2 months at Sky have been a complete whirlwind. Following the back end of the delivery of the Sky Movies Christmas brand campaign our own team delivered and launched The Sky Difference brand campaign, which went live on Boxing Day. In a nutshell this campaign showcases the amazing benefits Sky offers all of their customers at no extra cost! We wanted to push out 4 messages to customers reminding them they get Sky+ app, Smart Series Link, Catch Up channels and the Sky Atlantic channel. This was done across TV, digital, VOD, Out of Home and Radio.


Over the past few months we have had a few curve balls thrown at us, including battles over music usage costs, last minute changes to legal lines and getting approval on the TV ads from governing body, Clearcast. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is learning how to deliver pieces of creative within hours of the delivery deadline and the main learning from this campaign for me is that the devil is definitely in the detail, especially when doing the final checks!

Over the next few months I’ll be working on another brand campaign which I will update you on next time!

Thanks again for reading!!

Any questions?







Still undecided about taking a placement year? – hear from those at the end of their placement.

Following the ‘Undecided about taking a placement blog released last week, we asked our returning placement students about their placement experience so we could tell you about what they gained from it.

We were interested to hear what their motivations were for doing a placement; 76% of them said that it was to help improve their long term career prospects which is great news as the 2015 Highflier reports states that 31% of all graduate vacancies are expected to be filled by undergraduates who have had previous work experience with that organisation – such as an industrial placement.

Looking at the comments below from some of our students it is quite clear to see that undertaking a placement can be a great experience:

  • “The experience you gain on a placement year is invaluable and every student should endeavour to secure a placement.”
  • “The placement year has been one of the best experiences to date, I would recommend it to anyone.”
  • “Not only does completing a placement help you expand your industry awareness and give you a real taste of a full time job, but it can also give you a competitive edge through providing the opportunity to gain experience in that field which may help you to stand out against other applicants.”
  • “Great experience. Would recommend it 100%.”
  • “The placement year was definitely an experience not to be missed, helps you develop yourself in the working environment and learn what is required of you.”

Undertaking a placement is not only beneficial career wise, it can also help build character and confidence which is invaluable. It also gives you a taste of the ‘real working world’ and a level of responsibility which you can thrive in.

  • “Great decision to make, not only for a career choice but also personal growth.”
  • “It was the best thing I’ve ever done as I gained valuable work experience to help me in my career and gained a lot of confidence in myself”.

The important thing to remember when applying for placements is to apply early. One of the respondents mentioned that many of his friends failed to secure a placement. It is important to realise that when applying for placements you are not only competing against fellow University of Hertfordshire students, you are competing against students from universities across the UK and maybe even beyond that.

It can be difficult to find jobs so when an opportunity arises for you to network with recruiting employers on campus don’t miss it. Meet recruiting placement employers at the Graduate Recruitment & Placement Fair; for more information and to book your place click here.

‘Experience and personal growth’ are two major advantages of undertaking a placement. If you are still undecided after this blog why not book an appointment with a Careers Adviser to discuss all of your options.

Undecided about taking a placement year?

Doing a work placement is a good idea, isn’t it?  You’ve probably heard about how doing one can help with your career, develop your skills for work and enhance your academic study.  But perhaps you’re still not convinced and ready to commit….

Question the value of doing a placement?

This is a tricky one to pin down, since no placement is the same.  It can help to go back to basics and establish what would make a placement worthwhile for you.  Could it be a full-time paid job, travel overseas, or paving the way to return to a company as a graduate that appeals to you?  Once you’ve worked out what a worthwhile placement would be for you, why not go online and look for opportunities that match your vision for your placement year.

Haven’t weighed up the pros and cons yet?

Make a list of plus and minus points and see which is longer.  If your gut instinct tells you that the result is wrong for you, try giving a weighting to the plus and minus points from 1 – 3 (1 – quite important, 2 – important, 3 – very important) and tally up the scores. You might feel happy with your decision, but even if it wasn’t clear cut, you’ll feel more certain about what’s important to you.

Doubts that won’t go away?

From niggling doubts to mental roadblocks, our reservations can stop us getting on with something we really want to do.  Have you talked these through with friends and family? There might be solutions or perspectives that you haven’t thought of yet.  If you’d like to sit down and talk your thoughts through, you mind find an appointment with a Careers Adviser really helpful.

Interested in finding out more about work placements generally?

In September and October we’ll be running Placement Events in your School.  You’ll have a chance to meet your team of Careers Advisers and Placement Officers.  In these sessions we will unpack the benefits of doing a placement year, share top tips on how to land a one, and pin point what counts as a work placement as part of your degree.

Here at the Careers, Employment and Enterprise Service, you have a dedicated team of Placement Officers who can help you with placement job search, CV and cover letter feedback and the practicalities of approving your work placement as part of your undergraduate degree.  There’s also a range of resources for you about placements on CareerHub – you can find them by searching ‘placement’ and ‘work experience’ key words.

You can call in or get in touch with us with all of your questions – we’re looking forward to helping you find a placement!  Please either call in to the Service, call on 01707 284791 or email at

Why applying early pays off

Did you know that applications for some placement opportunities that start in the summer of 2016 are open now?

One example of this is Deloitte’s Technology Consulting Industrial Placement which is now open. If you’re into technology and business, then this placement is brilliant opportunity for you. This placement will give you an insight into major sectors and experience of technology at one of the world’s largest professional services firms.

Doing a placement can give you invaluable work experience which will massively benefit you when it comes to applying for graduate roles in your final year. Some organisations such as Deloitte allow their placement students to apply for the graduate role at the end of the placement, which would mean that you start your final year knowing that you have a graduate job already secured. To find out what working for Deloitte is like, read this blog from University of Hertfordshire graduate Hammad Riaz who currently works there:

Doing a placement during your time at university can help you stand out of the crowd when it comes to applying for graduate jobs.

To find out more information and to apply online, go to For a placement opportunity like Deloitte’s, that is open now but starts in the summer of 2016, it usually means that places are limited and that they operate on a first come, first served basis. So even though the start date for 2016/17 placements may seem a thousand miles away, apply sooner rather than later.

Final year students, it’s not too late to find a graduate job!

How to overcome three barriers to graduate employment

If you’re a finalist and you don’t have a graduate job lined up yet, you’re not alone. However there’s no need to worry that you’ve missed the boat as there is still a lot you can do. Read on for advice on beating three common concerns that final year students have at this stage.

I don’t know what I want to do

Around 50% of graduate jobs are open to people with a degree in any discipline. It can be comforting to know this but it can also make decision-making more difficult. However it’s important to work out what you want to do as it will make your life much easier; you will be able to tailor your CV appropriately and target relevant job websites and agencies. If you want to generate some career ideas then tools such as Prospects Planner and the Target Jobs Careers Report may be helpful and you are welcome to book an appointment with a Careers Adviser to discuss your options in more depth.

Haven’t I left it too late to apply for graduate jobs?

It’s true that many graduate schemes will have closed for 2014/15 (although occasionally schemes will re-open if recruitment targets haven’t been met). However there are still plenty of opportunities available both with larger organisations and small/medium sized employers (SMEs). Many smaller companies recruit at any time of year on an “as needs” basis and can offer great opportunities for new graduates to gain experience and develop a career. If you do decide that you really want a graduate scheme with a major company then it’s still possible to apply during next year’s recruitment round – for example in 2012 only 24% of new recruits to the NHS Graduate Management Training scheme came straight from university.

I’m too busy with my assignments – I don’t have time to look for work

Final year involves a lot of hard work and, of course, it’s important to get the best degree classification you possibly can. But if you’re worried about what to do after you leave it’s tempting to use your focus on coursework as an excuse for not doing anything career-related now. However, job-hunting at this stage doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Many job sites will send email alerts if you set up a profile and, in some sectors, companies will promote jobs via social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter or even Facebook which can also save time. Once you’ve worked out which websites and social media channels to use, a quick half-an-hour two or three times a week should be all you need to spot suitable job opportunities. Applying for jobs will take longer but it’s all about balance – you might have to pass a few jobs by, but you should be able to schedule in a few hours to apply for an opportunity that’s too good to miss. Your last few months at university will be demanding but, by planning in some time to focus on the future, you can reduce your stress levels and you might even land yourself a job.

Suzanne Ball is a Careers Adviser at the university’s Careers, Employment & Enterprise Service. She regularly tweets on careers in the creative industries at

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