Part-time work at university: the surefire way to impress an employer.
Undertaking extra-curricular activities while at university is a great way of making yourself more employable. However, nothing beats the real world experience a part-time job or work experience can give you.
Getting out of the university bubble
Being part of a society can provide you with a variety of skills, from organisation and time management to budgeting. This is useful experience, but bear in mind that you are gaining it in a safe environment, in which help is always at hand from the students’ union or other committee members. You are part of the university bubble. This is not to undermine the experience university can give, merely to point out that it can be an artificial environment.
Striking out on your own
In a part-time job or on work experience you won’t have the security the university environment can provide you with. This is great to build your independence, both financially and in terms of your skills and self-confidence.
Work experience and part-time jobs will test you. You will be presented with the sort of problems you are likely to face in the workplace: dealing with difficult managers or customers, for example – or even coping with last-minute changes, perhaps in the rota or in deadlines for projects.
The skills you develop from part-time work at university
- Time management skills. Juggling work experience or a part-time job as well as study shows a great deal of responsibility and good time management.
- Your communication skills. You will be faced with a variety of different audiences: your team members and your manager, perhaps even their managers, customers, suppliers, and so on. Each will have their own needs and wants and test your communication skills accordingly. Developing a professional communication style for different audiences is a key employability skill.
- How to be flexible and deal with tight deadlines while also accommodating last-minute work.
- Knowledge of new markets. You’ll be able to deepen your understanding of the industry you are working in, and gain commercial awareness.
- Problem solving. How to deal with client-facing and internal situations and problems, and deal with them effectively.
Gaining this from a part-time job or work experience, as well as through university, will show employers that you are serious about furthering your career, and that you are an independent individual who can cope with different situations and adapt to new environments.
It will also formalise your CV, as prospective employers will be able to ask for references from past employers.
We hope you’ve found our series on employability skills useful in the past months. For further career advice and getting your graduate job hunt of work experience off to a great start, visit www.targetjobs.co.uk