– What does a typical travel bag of an average family consist of?
– 2 cameras, 2 laptops, 4 iphones, 3 ipods, 1 ipad.
Social Media Week London 2012
Sounds like a joke, but the process of digitalization has indeed strongly penetrated our lives. From family, everyday activity and living standards to communication and work – every single aspect of our life is influenced and affected by digital media and communications.
How is this connected to paid internships, you may ask?
The answer is that the procedure of employment has also become a subject of a digital change. Writing covering letters and sending CV is no longer enough. Graduates are expected to have the skills, which 10 years ago would be considered if not futurism but definitely a unique selling point.
I have already explained the 3 principles of building a career in the UK and importance of the paid internship in my previous blogpost. This is very much different from the way careers are built in Kazakhstan and Russia. But considering this and a recent change in the visa regulation rules, you nonetheless decided to try your best and get an internship in the UK. So what’s next? Where should you go? What should you do?
If you are still a student, the closest help point might be your university’s career service. There you will get a very general booklet with common rules of CV and covering letter writing together with a typical advice to apply to each position thoroughly. It makes sense, but it’s not enough. You can send millions of these generic CVs and covering letters, but no one will ever read and respond to them. One of the articles in the Evening Standard on 19.09.2012 was about a girl who applied for more than 3000 jobs and didn’t get any.
What else? Job centers? Job centers are useless either. Especially for migrants as, first of all, migrants aren’t their target audience. And second, the job center is a really desperate place, whereas you need to be positive and cheerful in order get an internship here.
This is important – your attitude. Being rejected might not only be unpleasant but also affect your confidence, which is why you must be mentally strong and tackle the situation accordingly.
Having experienced the pain of job search myself, here I list 6 strategies, which any graduate can adopt, mix and adjust to his needs. I’ve created this list not only according to my personal experience, but to the experience of other graduates, recruiters, and professionals; Guardian Career Panels and the aforementioned Social Media Week London 2012 talks. The following list might not be extensive and if you have your tips to add, feel free to do so.
Strategy 1. Volunteering
Volunteering is definitely worth consideration if you’re interested in a charity or development sector, for instance. It’s a great way to demonstrate your genuine interest in the company/sector, showcase your abilities and skills as well as meet the people from the industry. And who knows, once there is a spot available, you might be the first one to be contacted for the job.
There are usually a number of volunteer opportunities advertised on campus, but you will need to act proactively and approach the companies yourself, suggesting your services to them. Charity and development sector is all about people and connections, where you need to acquire a certain reputation and a have great devotion to what you do in order to be recognized by the industry. This approach is rather slow and you might invest a lot of time and resources and still not get the desired result.
Strategy 2. Unpaid internships
Although it might seem to be similar to the previous one, the key difference is that internships (even unpaid) are first of all aimed at your professional development. So even if you don’t earn money, you are supposed to get a relevant experience and enhance your professional skills and knowledge. It is also more common to apply for the advertised unpaid internship roles rather than asking for them. Unpaid internships are usually advertised through careers services and specific websites such as city-internships.com. As a result you also get a chance to demonstrate yourself and meet the right person.
Even if you don’t get a job, you get experience. Just bear in mind applying for the roles relevant to your future career.
Strategy 3. Networking
This is somewhat strange and confusing activity for the post soviet person. Difficulty lies in the difference of cultural backgrounds. First of all, our people do not usually stand when they drink alcohol, they usually sit at the fully laid table, propose toasts and only then drink. Second, it is not very typical to talk to strangers as our communities are rather closed ones. I remember visiting a networking event organized by one company and there I met two Russian girls. As soon as they realized that I speak Russian, they tended to organize a circle of us three and stick to each other. This is a mistake. If you want to make a career in the UK, you need to learn to network with other people from other nationalities.
The sooner you acquire this skill, the more benefit you can get. Having a good contact is worth ten unpaid internships. Almost every industry organizes their specific networking events, where you can meet professionals of all levels. Social media meet-ups, for example, happen twice per month. I will blog about secrets and techniques of networking in a separate post.
Strategy 4. Careers days/fairs
This is where the skill of networking is essential. You only have a couple of minutes to impress the employer and involve him into the conversation, but as a result you can get a real interview. Companies, which present themselves at the Careers Days/Fairs usually have couple of internships and depending on the level of your preparation, you can either get one or fail to. I say preparation, because attending careers fair involves more than just a physical presence. Smart look, couple of CVs in hand, knowledge of the companies showcasing and a small pitch are the four things that you must prepare in order to succeed.
But the winner takes it all.
Strategy 5. Graduate programs/internships
Simple as it is. The company is willing to hire and teach and even pay to you. You don’t need to do much research as everything regarding the application process is posted on each company’s website. The trap is that if you can access and apply for it, then everyone can. The competition is going to be very high and very tough. It is the time your academic performance is evaluated, so study well; you really need to be the best, the smartest and the brightest. You also need to be creative when applying for such program in order to be noticed among millions of others. The last but not the least – apply early, the application process is usually finished 4-6 months in advance.
A really good thing is that the company might hire your for a permanent role if you perform successfully and most of such programs at big companies usually sponsor the working visa for migrants.
Strategy 6. New approach
This final strategy is based on a classic application process but complemented by social media. This strategy is so new that even recruiters are not usually sure if they can hire you based on that or not. And I believe this is going to the future of the recruiting.
What I’m talking about is a real mix of creativity, social media marketing, and networking.
How does it work? First of all, you need to be a social media savvy and understand the way social media world operates. Such words as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are three essential components of your everyday life. As soon as you learn how to use these tools effectively, you get an ace in your hand.
As I have mentioned at the beginning of this long-long post, companies are also affected by the digital change. Sometimes you can find a job advert only on the company’s social media profile; sometimes the job posting appears on the HR-managers twitter account much earlier than on the website. It is a great opportunity not only to apply early but also to know the relevant person, which is always an advantage.
Another thing worth considering is a number of new ways you can apply for the position. Forget old CVs, create a Pinterest board if you want to get into the fashion industry; make a video if you want to show yourself in action and send to the company; blog about your experience or your life to demonstrate your writing skills. This is the time you can be as creative as possible and show the best of yours.
It’s tricky though not be too creative or speculative. Keep the balance and good luck!