Getting work experience while still in universityChen Wan Lim
As valuable as a university scroll may be, there is no substitute for working experience in the real world. Hiring managers will essentially put more weight on experiences and skills gained from employment and having those experiences will allow you to build a solid resume. Here are four ways to gain meaningful working experiences while still in university:
Get in touch with your professors and people from the university management team. Ask if there are any openings such as teaching assistant, research assistant or office administration positions. Apart from that, you can even explore opportunities in a non-academic related position such as library assistants, IT lab assistants or event organising. Having these on-campus work experiences on your resume indicates to your prospective employers that you are hard-working and that you have the ability to manage time to find a balance between work and class.
Internships – paid or unpaid
Start looking for internship opportunities during your school break – regardless of whether it’s just for a month or for three months. Internships are highly regarded as it provides the opportunity for students to experience real world working culture, shadow professionals in their daily course of work and to gain insights not found in any textbooks. Besides paid internships, students can also opt for non-paid internships at non-governmental organisations which often provide a more hands-on approach in running the day-to-day processes of the organisation. Besides looking good on your resume, internships provide the opportunity for students to gauge if a particular industry is appealing to them – it might be at first but not anymore.
If you happen to be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take a sabbatical leave from your university to pursue work-travel programme, then be ready to pounce on it. Popular destinations for work travel programmes include Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Work-travel programmes are designed for people who are keen on travelling while still having the need to work for some income.
Having foreign working experience is always a plus point – when applying for an entry level job at least. If your university offers the opportunity for student exchange programmes with a partner university overseas, then you can probably put that into serious consideration. Even if the exchange does not involve work, but having foreign exposure definitely carries a little bit more weight than not having any.
Besides looking good on your resume, early working experience allows students to network and to build connections which could come in handy in the future. Many kinds of literature suggest that companies are more inclined to offer full-time positions to ex-interns of the company as they are first and foremost familiar with the candidate and also because the candidate is familiar with the company.