When I left university this year, I braced myself for a bloody hard summer. No holiday, no break, no choice, I'm afraid. I was terrified of being unemployed, and I am blessed (arguably) with a tendency to not sit still.
Fast forward to September, 3 internships and 1 horrible part-time job later, and next week, I'll be starting my first graduate job. I overwhelmingly put this down to a shed load of luck. Right place, right time, blah blah blah. But the crucial thing that I HAVE had control over, is my insistence to be in that right place, and damn well make the most of it.
Here are my top tips for finding internships and work experience, specifically in a PR, Social Media, or Marketing environment.
1. Phone, phone, phone, phone, phone.
And if it doubt, phone again. Speculate, ask for advice, ask for a meeting, ask for what you can do.
You do not have to be academic, well qualified, "in the know" or particularly impressive to find, or organise work experience. It helps, obvs, but NONE of my placements have come from the back of a packed CV or qualification. Honestly. A CV is secondary to an actual walking, talking, work-y person (technical term) thinking you've got a smidgen of potential. All of my placements were secured by being confident enough to call up and ask for it. You'd be AMAZED how many people are too scared to pick up the phone.
If there is one thing I have learnt through my internships, it is just how powerful having a good, polite, professional yet friendly phone manner is. I used to be terrified of calling my hairdresser. Trust me - this skill can be learnt.
2. Forget timing
When I left uni I couldn't help but compare myself to every single one of my more qualified, more experienced or more advanced mates. I love them dearly, but it took me months to realise that once you've left education, the calendar doesn't matter. Unlike your whole life previously that was punctuated by the ebb and flow of the Summer holidays, September doesn't mean anything. FORGET SEPTEMBER.
3. Be realistic
Accept that you're going to be knackered for a while. If you're not up to this, a hundred people are. (And, quite frankly, you don't deserve it anyway.)
I realise I am being quite firm here but this steely indignance comes from my downright refusal to believe that gaining work experience isn't possible. I hear too many people claim they cannot get experience for (inadequate) reasons x, y, and z. It is HARD, that is very true, but it's a million times more worthwhile than it is difficult. Realistically though, it is financially draining, which is why you have to....
4. Plan plan plan plan plan
If you know in advance that you have a 4 week placement scheduled, take advantage of that foresight and work in advance to fund it. Finances aside - book up your diary in advance, you can always say no to placements if your dream job materialises. Summer is the prime time for students and grads to undertake placements, so the earlier you get on the hunting bandwagon (I'm talking May and earlier) to fit in interviews and applications, the better.
5. Don't believe the hype
We are bombarded with youth unemployment statistics, reminded by our parents to keep on looking, and constantly compare ourselves to our school and graduate counterparts. There ARE jobs out there. And if there is nothing visibly at first, but you're exceptionally awesome, they might create one for you. TRUST.
There were millions of other tips I could have listed, so next week I'm going to be writing about my experiences during my time on placements. I hope this helps a teeny teeny bit! If there are any questions you have specifically or want advice on, please, please leave me a comment and I'll include it next time.
Lots of love, and luck!