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Wednesday 20 February 2019

There is a line when you are studying at uni that you are eager to cross: the beginning of your working life.

Nowadays most of the job positions available on the market ask you to have at least six months of work experience in the sector you are interested in, but this can turn into a challenge since many companies are not willing to take on people who haven’t had previous experience.

The question is, how am I supposed to get work experience if nobody ever gives me a chance?

Job hunting is tedious and hard work, or, to be more precise, job hunting is a JOB in itself. You need to dedicate time, organise yourself, be professional, memorise the companies you have applied to, change and edit your cover letters, tailor your CV to the specific position … the list goes on and on. It's time-consuming and very frustrating when all you get is negative replies - if you get any at all.

However, you shouldn’t be demoralised by this. Instead, you should think about it as a challenge that you will overcome.

It’s good to have some work experience to include in your CV because no matter how great your grades are, if you can’t prove you have real-life skills to deal with real-life problems, your grades are not going to be so important.

If you are studying full-time, you should think about taking an internship or a part-time role - something that won’t take too much of your time. You should also think about something you enjoy doing or get experience within the industry you’d like to work in in the future.

For example, in my case, I enjoy reading and writing, and I would love to get a job in the publishing industry. Therefore I am currently working as a library assistant to get some experience related to the publishing sector.

One thing you should have to take into account is that when you start working, you need to organise your timetable around it. If your classes are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you can have available time to work on Thursdays and Fridays, but you should have, at least, two days off from work and uni for time to study and to rest and relax.

You should also be very clear with your managers from the moment you start working that you are studying and, therefore, you have other commitments besides work.

Finally, you should ask, if possible, for your shift or timetable in advance. This way you can manage your time to prepare the projects, presentations or any other assignments you have to submit to uni. Knowing your working hours beforehand will play a key role in your time management, meaning you'll be able to plan your work quite easily.

On the other hand, if you know your availability is going to change, you should let your managers know about it in advance, so they can make the appropriate changes to the timetable and include your name on the rota on the days you will be available.

Work experience and internships are a great opportunity for you to enter the working sector you're interested in. However, you shouldn’t forget that your main goal should be to pass your degree or your master’s. Therefore you shouldn’t overwork or commit to more things than you are capable of doing.

By finding the right balance between work and study, you will also learn many things about yourself you weren’t aware of, like resilience, strength, perseverance and multitasking. These are valuable skills to include in your CV later on.