Now that you have carried out thorough sector research, decided which opportunity is best for you and what companies to apply to, it’s time to put your plan into action! Follow these simple steps to help get you started on the application process and another step closer to your future career.

Early applications are great – recruiters appreciate your organisation and it is better for your nerves if you know you have secured work experience before exam time! Also, many internship, placement and school leaver intakes may close before the application deadline if the places are filled early with suitable candidates, so it really does pay to get a head start. Taking these steps now will save you lots of time and stress in the future.

Visit your careers service

Find out where to go for help as soon as you can in your first year. Careers services can offer you invaluable advice and a big advantage at application stage by helping to polish your application and also letting you know what’s on offer. They can also advise on work experience and training opportunities to enhance your skills.

You can also find sector specific careers advice and further application advice on the Inside Careers website.

Speak to someone in the industry

If you have contact with someone who has completed an internship or placement in your sector of interest, ask them how they got the opportunity! Students in the year above you are likely to have had similar experiences to what you are applying to – reach out and get advice from someone who has been there.

You can also check out all of our sector profiles to read about what working in different sectors is really like.

When you get to application stage, being able to say that you have spoken to someone in the industry shows your interest and commitment to the sector, and also that you are a confident communicator.

Connect with employers

Hopefully you’re already signed up to Inside Careers, so you’ll be one of the first to hear about new opportunities, but there are lots of other methods employers use to connect with students. Firms are increasing their use of social media, so make sure you’re following your target employers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They may also have a YouTube channel.

Make sure you know when graduate recruitment events are happening at your university or in your local area. These are a great way to meet employers face to face and ask questions. A large number of firms now also hold their own events, in an effort to seek out the best students. Look out for campus presentations, coffee drop-ins, roadshow events and business games. Your university may even have a number of ‘brand managers’: students and post-grads recruited to promote an employer’s events and placement/job vacancies. Your careers service may be able to connect with these people.

Finally, a number of firms offer national or inter-university competitions to engage with students. An entry (or even a win!) would be a great thing to add to your CV or talk about in interviews to help you stand out from your peers.

Organise your inbox

Create a separate email folder or even a separate email account for your applications. This will help to keep your correspondence focused and ensure that you don’t miss any important emails. This information is going to mount up as you secure and complete multiple internships and placements – keeping all of the information together will also help you to quickly and easily update your CV in the future.

Create a careers folder

Keeping a record of relevant advice and ideas is a manageable way to keep track of your career aspirations and progress while you are also juggling classes, exams, personal commitments and more! Your folder can be physical, virtual or both, depending on your preference and is a place to keep career information that could be useful or notes of areas you should follow up on at a later stage. As you complete internships and work experience, keep a record of the skills, training and experience you gain. Also keep a list of academic achievements and experience gained outside of school or university.

Know which sectors need extra early applications

If you are interested in securing some experience in investment banking or management consultancy in particular, these sectors are highly competitive and require early applications. Getting your applications in early in any sector will put you in a much better position to set yourself apart from the crowd and ensure that you manage to secure that essential experience!

Think long term

An internship or work experience is the perfect way to try out a profession before deciding what is right for you and your career. Once you have secured an opportunity, create a list of what you want to gain from the experience and how this can be applied across different sectors.

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