“Research shows that without work experience 52% of graduate employers rate your chances of receiving a job offer as ‘not very likely.'”
At Southampton Solent, every course recognises the importance of not only having a degree, but having industry experience too. As part of Employability week, Solent PR students were invited along to a Placement Conference as we have to carry out work placements in the summer between 2nd and 3rd year. The day covered the importance of placements, finding a placement, applications for placements and interview confidence, with industry experts sharing their knowledge and advice.
The first speaker of the day was Johnathan Barber, who works as a Business Development Manager at the Institute of Financial Accountants. Talking from an employer’s perspective on the importance of work placements, Johnathan explained how it’s not just students who benefit, the employers do too. He said: “It’s in our interest as employers to network and make connections with universities and students.” Previously, Johnathan has taken on 3 work placement students at one time and went on to hire them all! He finished by advising students to consider big, medium and small placements – they can all be worthwhile.
The next speaker was Lois Collier, a previous Solent placement student who graduated in 2014. Lois was a Law student but wanted to do work experience in HR – she had placements with Macdonald Botley Park Hotel and Red Funnel as a HR assistant. Lois’ main advice for getting a placement was to go straight to a company and speak directly to them, finding out the appropriate person to talk to, such as the Head of HR. Lois also explained the importance of having evidence for the skills you have listed on your CV; for example “I handed in my dissertation a week early” – time management skills! During your time on a placement, Lois advised to write down what you did at the end of each day, so you don’t forget!
Paul Hanrahan spoke at the conference about having an effective online application. Paul works as a Talent Acquisition Manager at Enterprise Rent a Car and looks through multiple applications a day, some good some bad! He said: “your CV should be of your most relevant experiences. An employer will be more interested in my last 15 years working at Enterprise than what I did at University!” Paul explained that when he’s looking through applications, he looks for key criteria; who he’s reading about, legal factors (eligible to work in the UK etc) and relevant experience – who you’ve worked for and key words, such as ‘customer services’. Paul also looks for the work applicants have done outside of University, such as involvement in societies – shows leadership and team work skills. Paul finished by saying: “if it does not add value to your CV, leave it out!”
A huge thank you to Liz George and Georgina Andrews for organising the conference and inviting us PR students along. A further thank you goes to all the industry speakers who took time out of their days to come and talk to us!