The summer holidays are here, you’ve worked really hard at school and you’re looking forward to a break – perhaps you have some travel booked. But if you are thinking about applying to university in the UK, the holidays are an important time to get work experience, internships or volunteering that will contribute to a more competitive UCAS application, not to mention enhance your career opportunities.
Assume that admissions receive more applications than there are places on the course and that everyone who applies has met the academic entry criteria – what is going to make your application more compelling than the next? What you have done outside your studies that will win you a place on an oversubscribed course?
Universities favour work experience as it shows that you are serious about your future and are able to pursue multiple interests. It doesn’t necessarily need to be directly related to your studies (unless you are applying to Medicine, Veterinary or Law).
Why is this important?
- Work experience, internships and volunteering will give you a whole range of skills that are desirable to universities, such as commitment, self-motivation, time management, team working, negotiation and organisational skills, not to mention role-specific skills. These skills can all be applied to enrich your studies.
- The experience you gain will prove invaluable in the classroom, helping you to connect academia with the ‘real’ world. It can add context and insight to your studies and a different perspective.
- Work experience helps you to form realistic career expectations and goals which universities like to see in their prospective students. It also allows you to try out certain sectors and roles to see if you like them before making big decisions about your career.
- Having some professional experience before you graduate will help make the transition from studying to working easier and will increase you chances of getting the job you apply for. Universities love employable alumni – it reflects well on the university and improves their employability stats. The Careers Centre at your destination university will offer a great deal of support including: compiling your CV, application letter writing, gaining the competitive edge when it comes to beating the opposition!
- You can get ahead in building a professional network that you can call on for career support and job opportunities after you graduate.
How do you get work experience?
There are many ways you can secure work experience and volunteering work. It depends on what you are interested in and where you live but an obvious place to start is in your local area. Reach out to local businesses, organisations, public services etc to see if they have opportunities. You may be able to use family connections or friends to help you secure informal experience. It’s great if you can get practical experience but even the chance to shadow a member of staff will give you some insight into your chosen role/sector – it’s better than nothing.
UCAS recommend several resources to get you started – so get exploring and get ahead of your peer group!
UK Study Options supports students with enrichment activities that boost their profiles and enhance their applications to university. We also offer services such as CV and cover letter guidance and proofing, as well as, conduct mock interviews and more to prepare students for internships, university and beyond! Read about our services on our University Application Support webpage.