“Graduate job: Two years of experience required”.
All graduates have encountered this frustrating sentence when looking for a job after university. We’re all wondering the same thing: how can I already have two years of experience if I’ve only just graduated?
However, experience doesn’t just mean a full-time job within the industry. Experience can include many things, such as internships, part-time jobs, side hustles, extracurricular activities, and even hobbies related to the career you want to pursue. If you want to get ahead of the competition, you’ll need to include these elements in your CV.
So, how can you get experience for your dream job while studying at university? Here are some of the best strategies for building skills and experience in four popular subject areas: finance, journalism, writing, and digital marketing.
If you want to work in the finance sector, you’ll be facing fierce competition. However, even though getting a job in this industry could be tough, you’ll be rewarded with a high salary and a stable, in-demand career.
But what are the possible career paths for finance students? The four main areas are:
- Investment management
- Banking (retail and investment)
- Insurance (related fields include actuarial science)
To enter these careers, you could study a range of subjects, including finance, business management, economics, accounting, and investment banking. If you want to become an accountant, you may not need to go to university at all; you can study for your AAT qualifications to enter this field.
Once you go into the finance industry, you can expect to find junior roles in accountancy firms, banks, or any company that requires an accountant or other finance professional. If you’re especially talented or have a lot of experience, you could end up working for prestigious finance and investment companies like J.P. Morgan or Goldman Sachs.
What kind of experience would be beneficial? First of all, you’ll need to be aware of financial developments like the Making Tax Digital initiative or changes in inflation, as this shows you’re committed to keeping up with the world of finance. Also, it’s a good idea to find internships with accountancy firms or banks that you could do in the summer months to gain important networking skills. Some university courses even offer a year in industry so you can learn more about your future career.
If you want to earn money as you gain experience, you could find a paid internship or start online tutoring. With websites like MyTutor, you can teach a subject you’re an expert in (such as maths or economics) to A-level and GCSE students. You’ll earn up to £20 an hour and gain vital communication, time management, and leadership skills.
Journalism is another incredibly popular subject, and just like finance, there’s a lot of competition for journalism jobs. These jobs include being a reporter, editor, photojournalist, or newsreader.
To enter the journalism industry, you’ll either need an undergraduate degree in journalism or an undergraduate degree in another subject plus a postgraduate degree in journalism. However, to secure an entry-level role in the industry as a junior reporter or editorial assistant, you need to display your experience and passion to compete with other graduates.
An obvious way to gain this experience and develop important skills like writing, editing, communication, and research is to join your university’s student newspaper. You could take on a variety of roles to suit your interests, including photography, film/music writing, and news reporting.
Another option is to start your own blog. By doing this, you can write about topics you’re passionate about and also gain experience with content management systems like WordPress. You could even earn money with your blog through adverts or affiliate marketing, or you could pitch your articles to newspapers or magazines to earn a one-off payment and build your reputation in the industry.
Writing is a very similar subject to journalism, but since it’s a lot broader, there are so many career paths you can pursue if you study it. Some examples of writing jobs include:
- Technical writer
- PR and communications officer
Unfortunately, these writing jobs are highly competitive, so if you want to gain an entry-level role as, for example, a PR assistant or junior copywriter, you’ll need to find extracurricular activities or side hustles at university to boost your CV.
To start with, you’ll need to study an appropriate writing-based subject. These include:
- Creative writing
- Media studies
- Film studies
- A STEM subject (for the technical writing career)
Similar to journalism students, students in writing-based courses should consider joining their university’s student newspaper to develop their writing, editing, research, and analysis skills. This will also give you the opportunity to meet new people.
To earn some extra cash while gaining experience, you can start writing blog posts or creating videos for YouTube or TikTok as a side hustle. Although you may not earn money at first, you can start to make an income from adverts or affiliate marketing as you gain more followers, and you’ll also get to develop your creativity and communication skills.
Finally, if you’re studying digital marketing, there are plenty of opportunities for you to gain experience while you’re at university, which will help you beat the strong competition in this industry. Whether you want to be a social media manager, digital marketer, SEO specialist, or web copywriter, you can gain skills and make money at the same time through various side hustles.
For example, managing a website or blog will give you important SEO, marketing, and writing skills that you’ll need for your future career, and you’ll get to earn some extra cash through your ads and affiliate links. To supplement your income, you could teach classes on MyTutor or even start a dropshipping business if you want to flex your marketing and entrepreneurship skills.
There are also some more traditional options for gaining experience, such as joining a society at university and progressing to the committee level. If you become a treasurer, social secretary, or even the president of a society, you’ll be able to show off your fantastic leadership and management skills on your CV.
Landing Your Dream Job
These days, the competition is fierce for almost any graduate role. This is why it’s so important for you to get ahead by gaining the right experience and skills while you’re still at university.
With a relevant side hustle, you can get experience for your CV and earn money at the same time. Why not try out your own side hustle today by creating a blog, becoming a tutor, or starting your own business?
Article by Ben Fielding, feeelance writer