A student perspective on finding relevant work experience, bearing with uncertainty, and making the most of Kent opportunities
It’s very common for us students to worry about our careers. We all remember the excitement of starting our degree and the dreams we had for our years at university and beyond. Then the deadlines came, followed by stress and, for many students, also accompanied by the much needed part-time job.
Now, some of us may have encountered very good job opportunities, gaining a good base of relevant skills for their future careers. Others, whether by choice or by lack of choices, have gone into job roles that didn’t quite match their fresher expectations. I was one of them: I had a part time job in a restaurant and, by the end of my second year, I had started feeling rather hopeless about my future after university. With a service industry job title most recent on my CV and LinkedIn profile, how would recruiters in marketing and journalism pick me? I felt trapped – without time to do other types of work, I would be defined by the most recent job I had, which was least relevant to my aspirations.
Luckily, I was wrong! It turns out that it really is true, as I was often advised at our Careers and Employability Service at Kent, that any work experience gives you valuable and transferable skills, and recruiters do value this. And it’s also thanks to the great support and opportunities they offer that I got my first paid (and relevant!) internship. The number and variety of roles that Kent offers does give students here a great chance to find opportunities where they can be part of a team, learn, develop their potential and get paid! Whether you have work experience or not, and whether you feel it’s appropriate for the roles you’re been applying for, you can rely on the Careers and Employability Service at Kent for help. Their expert staff will support you to find your way through, whether that’s through skills development, CV checks, volunteering opportunities, support in finding placements or work experience. Students can view vacancies, events, book appointments for a CV/application review, have a mock interview or receive Careers Guidance by booking themselves in via the TARGETconnect Careers portal.
In my case, I got my first role as part of the work-study scheme as a Student Helper supervisor. As mentioned, my experience in hospitality – costumer services and a fast-paced workplace – did pay off after all. I had started feeling more and more positive about my future when, a few weeks into my new role and couple of applications later, I was offered an internship role in Student Services! That was everything I was looking for: a gentle and supported start, a role within a sector I’ll possibly see my future career in and a whole set of new skills to learn alongside other student interns and professional service staff. I have finally kick-started my career and the feeling of hopelessness has lifted, replaced by the excitement of this long-awaited opportunity.
I have chosen to share my experience with you not because I needed a public diary or a platform to shout about my success, but because I feel that reading of real and common struggles helps everyone to navigate through their own ones with a bit more understanding and direction. My story has had a happy turn lately, and I hope it will give you all some good insights on how and why we should be as resilient as we can, but never truly hopeless. Whatever our circumstances are, we are well supported at Kent, and we all stand a chance. Good luck to you all!
Written by Francesca Sarlo, postgraduate student, 4.11.21
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