You better work work work work work!

It’s summertime! Time to relax, spend some time with friends, laze about in the sun, right? Unfortunately, wrong. Sure there’s time to do some of that, but the summer vacation is the perfect time to find some work , not only to earn a bit of money for the coming academic year, but also to gain some work experience!

Does your CV have a skills gap? 

Is there something missing from your experience that would be really useful in the future? Which skills do job descriptions ask for, and can you provide all of them? Think about what you want to gain, and look for work experience that will tick that box.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain experience and skills. You won’t get paid, but you’ll be supporting a charity as well as making new friends and learning new skills. Charity shop work can help you develop customer service skills, time management, creativity (think about window displays and merchandising of stock) and organisational skills. Going abroad to help build a school or dig a well will give you cultural awareness, resilience, time management and team working skills. Employers love seeing volunteering on CV – it shows that someone is interested in the world they live in and is keen on giving back.

Some ideas:

Summer camps and language schools

Thinking of going into teaching? Want to gain some leadership skills? Summer camps and language schools could offer you these skills. Look online for local opportunities, and look around on campus – language schools take place across the summer at Canterbury campus, so find out who they are and where they are, and get applying.

Some ideas:

Talk to your friends and family

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!” So many jobs are filled by people already known to a company, or someone who works there. Ask around, and see what’s on offer. You could find your dream job!

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What your hobbies and interests tell employers about you

When you’re putting together your graduate CV, your hobbies and interests section may seem fairly insignificant, right? Think again.

What you write about in this section can tell a prospective employer a lot more about you than you might think. Often, hobbies and interests suggest a lot about your personality, qualities, what you can offer an employer and what you might be like in the workplace.

The hobbies and interests section of your CV is even more important if you don’t have a lot of work experience (which is not uncommon for graduates). This is because employers are more likely to use it to build a better picture of you and your skills.

As a result, it’s important that you use your hobbies to showcase who you are and what attributes you have. Generally speaking, here’s what employers think about your hobbies and interests.

Travel

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It’s not uncommon for graduates to spend a few months or a gap year travelling, either before or after university. But what do employers think of grads who travel?

The good news is that most employers like to see a well-travelled graduate. This is because travelling usually helps you to develop key skills and character traits that are transferable to the workplace. These include independence, being adaptable and great communication skills.

If you have been travelling, it’s definitely worth talking about it concisely on your CV and mentioning the skills and qualities that it has helped you to develop. Globe-trotting grads tend to be perceived as open-minded, curious and resilient which are all great things to bring into a workplace.

Sport

Playing sport shows employers that you have some fantastic qualities that may include being:

  • Driven
  • Competitive
  • Motivated
  • A team player (depending on the sport)
  • Dedicated
  • Passionate

So many job roles and companies value these qualities so you would be silly not to mention your sporting achievements on your CV.

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Charity Work/Volunteering

From helping to build schools in Africa to walking dogs at your local animal shelter, many graduates have gotten involved in volunteering opportunities. Obviously volunteering is a fantastic thing for communities but it can also help your job application stand out.

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Volunteering vs. paid work: which should you choose?

If you are thinking about working for a charity, you are not alone. Thousands of students make the decision to look for charity work each year, but many don’t know where to start, or what kinds of roles are available to them.

There is also a common misunderstanding that charities are only run by volunteers: this is quite simply not the case. There are a great number of paid jobs available in the charity sector, on CharityJob you can see an average of 4,000+ roles available each month!

All of them could lead to a very lucrative and rewarding career. Many graduates find that working in the charity sector suits them better than working for a private business and there are an increasing number of graduate opportunities, training schemes and internships available to students as charities seek to employ the best talents.

However, it is important to determine what kind of charity work is right for you. It may be that a voluntary role for a short period of time better suits your needs. Whether you want to learn new skills, make new friends or try something new, you can choose a role that fits you best as there are plenty of opportunities available, in nearly every category (marketing, finance, project management, education etc).

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How to get a job in the charity sector

 

I never really thought of charity as a career option when I graduated. I was interested in building communities online, connecting people and spreading useful information. But after a few pretty successful years of working to persuade old-school magazine editors to take the internet more seriously, I looked around for a career move. Charities seemed to be the organisations where people were not only managing to make money online, but also where there was massive opportunity to use the power of the internet to help and connect people for the very best of reasons.

Now I work with so many people who want to work in charity one day, what surprises me most is that people think ‘charity’ is a job. It isn’t really, it’s a sector with thousands of different types of organisations and jobs. But it’s also the best sector to work in. I love the camaraderie, the amazing people you meet, the moving stories you tell, and the impact you have on the world. Much as I enjoyed business publishing, no-one EVER cried with joy when I told them we were launching a new air conditioning suppliers website. A patient with a rare blood cancer did, when I told her we were building an online community for blood cancer patients to connect with each other. I wouldn’t go back to working in the corporate world for any money. (And actually, for the record, I’m making about the same money as I was in publishing.)

Charity jobs can be notoriously difficult to apply for. People doing Charity Apprentice often tell me they were confused about what charity jobs are available, where to apply for them and how to gain relevant experience. Many people find it impossible to get their foot on the career ladder without having to work for free in unpaid internships for months on end.

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Alumni advice: I’m starting with the man in the mirror…

… I’m asking him to change his ways…

Start early… really early.

Ok, so you aren’t quite sure what direction you want to take, but unfortunately the longer you leave it the less likely you are to make the instant transition. It isn’t enough to just have a degree; you have to add other things to your CV, and to do that you need to plan ahead. Many companies now recruit before you even finish your degree, so don’t be afraid to browse the job pages every so often and see what the world offers.

You have a degree, so what?

Think the degree is enough to get you the job you want? Think again. The degree might just be to get you into the right pile of applicants for the interview. Explore what other courses or unpaid work can benefit your CV and soak up as much as you can. Is there a professional body you can join? Many chartered institutes offer student rates and offer great advice and career paths. Are there week long courses in the summer you can do to get another qualification? Students can have lot of time on their hands, time that could be spent furthering their career before it even starts.

Stay positive

Many people leave University and end up working low-paid bottom-rung jobs, so don’t panic if you do. You have done what many people in your position haven’t done – graduated. So think about what you can offer your employer, and think about the ways you can get noticed. You started as a manual labourer, within 3 years you were head of department. It will work out for you; just don’t expect it to fall at your feet.

Use the career advice centre

Yes you do have one, and actually it is one of the best around, so go and speak to them, see what advice they can give you. You need as much help as you can help, so don’t be afraid to seek it.

Think professionally

Don’t think people will be looking at your facebook account when you apply for a job? Think again. If the way you portray yourself in the public domains is as a drunken party animal the chances of you getting a well paid job are slim. Your potential employers do not want to see a LinkedIn profile picture of you on holiday, and they certainly don’t want to type your name into Facebook and see a picture of you lying in the middle of the road on a Saturday night. Ensure your profile picture on any publically accessible account is respectable and professional. Leave the party pictures firmly locked behind security settings.

– Matthew Haines graduated from Kent in 2011 with a degree in Philosophy and is now head of inspection at a medical manufacturing company. This is what he’d tell his younger self if he got the opportunity!

Employability Festival Spotlight: Volunteer with Frontier

Frontier is an international non-governmental and non-profit volunteering organisation that runs over 350 conservation, community and adventure projects in over 60 countries across the world. Established in 1989, Frontier has over 25 years of experience in sending volunteers abroad on engaging and capacity building projects. By encouraging the combination of travel with volunteering, Frontier inspires people to step off the beaten path and make their travel meaningful. Frontier allow the opportunity to boost CVs by gaining qualifications and improving personal development; international travel, cultural awareness, team work, liaise with professionals, report writing, field research skills, to name a few.


Various paid roles, internships and placements both abroad and at the London Headquarters are also an option and are listed on the website.

We are booked onto both Canterbury and Medway fairs during Employability Festival and hope to give talks as well. We are looking forward to meeting you!

Alumni advice: Don’t you…forget about me

10 years ago, I had just left school, started college and found  a part time job (fairly easily) that I could work around my studies. Halfway through my course I decided I no longer enjoyed my part time job and left, I found another one within a week that also easily fitted around my studies. After finishing college I found a full time job as I no longer lived with parents; after 3 years I left that employment and again had found another job within a month. My CV ten years ago was written in half an hour, I hadn’t even attempted a cover letter that was more than “Hi here’s my CV” and in the time between finishing school and beginning University, it never changed.

Today, I have just completed my degree and been accepted for an MA. I have 3 years of volunteering experience, 7 years of workplace experience, additional qualifications and I am finding it harder now to obtain employment than when I left school.

I am over qualified for the menial jobs and inexperienced in the roles I am qualified for. The world of employment has changed dramatically in a decade. It is no longer possible to leave employment with even mild reassurance that you will find another job, and degrees have become so commonplace that without an extremely high grade, volunteering, work experience and virtually everything else except the kitchen sink, you struggle to pass the first two obstacles; Cover Letter and CV.

So how do you get a job today?

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