How students and graduates can remain competitive in the current economic climate
University students, particularly those with hopes of entering employment in 2020, now face a new set of challenges in the wake of covid-19. A very large number of students that had previously secured work in the form of work experience, a year in industry, an internship, a graduate scheme or an experienced hire position have in many cases seen their positions cancelled.
It's highly likely that the cohort of students seeking employment up to 2021, will have to find new ways of becoming recognised and standing out from the crowd. This will coincide with a far lower number of available opportunities. Competition will be extremely fierce and opportunities sparse for all students seeking employment in 2020 and 2021.
Penultimate and final year students, in particular, should face the reality which is that the aftermath of the lockdown situation, at an employment level, is not set to return to normal until 2022. What this means is that you should expect the ‘lead time’, this is, the time that it takes to secure a job, will be, at best, three-to-four times longer. You should expect to attend more virtual/online interviews and become further proficient in adapting your skills sets to jobs you may not have initially considered as part of your short term career aspirations.
When you are successful in securing an offer of employment, you should brace for a permanent shift in the work culture and an environment that reflects new and more safer ways of working collaboratively. For some of you this will mean having to retrain and learn new skills or to pivot your existing skills.
To remain competitive with the current and upcoming employment opportunities, it's imperative that you derive as much value through training to fully acquaint yourself with the appropriate knowledge to stand out amongst the crowd. There are a number of things that you should do to position yourself beyond a level playing field on the employment front.
1. Seek out opportunities that are outside your ideal job (for the short term)
It's more important than ever that you're willing to be flexible in your first role or job after university. This could be in the form of approaching smaller companies that you may have previously overlooked. Experience on your CV carries a lot of weight and you need to adapt your skill set so that you present yourself as someone that has the ability to grow in an autonomous environment in any field or industry. Keep developing your CV, rewrite cover letters and practise interview questions. You should ensure your digital CV i.e. your LinkedIn profile is as coherent and up to date with your latest offering.
Main takeaway: don’t be narrow minded; identify jobs where your skills can be transferred and valued.
2. The term internship now has a new meaning
Until recent times an internship would mean 3 months (minimum) employment with an organisation typically in their offices over the summer. The term internship now has a new meaning and it is now being offered by some of the largest organisations in the form of 3-day experiences or even 3-hour evening sessions. These are extremely valuable events that inform large numbers of students, via virtual platforms, on their business activities and offer insights into the work they undertake. It shouldn’t be ruled out that they may even become compulsory prerequisites for main internships following the pandemic. Anyone in their penultimate or final year should be enrolling on these, highlighting them on CVs.
Main takeaway: become familiar with the new offerings and events that are being made available and recognise that companies are remodelling the internship format
3. Internships are now being offered by intermediate organisations on behalf of larger organisations
Intermediate companies are now offering internships. Companies including https://www.brightnetwork.co.uk/internship-experience-uk/ have opened up 3 day internship experiences in investment banking, technology, business, operations and marketing, finance and professional services, consulting and commercial law. Companies such as Google, Marks & Spencer, PwC and Vodafone will all be represented in these virtual career experiences . You should apply for these internship experiences directly on their website. Deadlines are ‘rolling’ but they are still open and have been credited by many students.
Main Takeaway: join communities of students such as Bright Network and find new ways of applying for internships because they are not just available through the organisations career’s websites.
4. Upcoming programmes
The AKEPB has a number of events planned over the next few months to help you improve in the following areas:
- Psychometric testing guidance
- CV and cover letter advice
- Competency questions guidance
- Interview preparation tips
- Assessment center advice
- Online interactive Q&A sessions to address specific questions
Written by Moez Mitha
AKEPB Jumpstart Chairperson
For further information, please email [email protected]