- Career Services UCC
- Final Year/ Recent Graduate Careers Hub
- Get Experience
Gaining experience is important to keep developing your skills. All experience is valuable, even if it is unpaid work as a volunteer. There are many ways to gain experience in a difficult job market. It is important to stay positive and focus on building experience and your career in challenging times.
Change is constant - you can make it work for you
As a final year student in 2020 you are probably feeling uncertain about your future, you are not alone. You are experiencing unexpected disruptions to your plans. While the economy is busy recovering there is a lot you can do over the coming weeks and months to empower yourself and ensure you are work ready.
Now is a time to focus on Positive and helpful mottoes such as: I can Adapt , I can Strive, I can Thrive!
Even in times of a strong and stable economy, final year can be a time for managing a myriad of issues and feelings: fear, excitement, not knowing fully what your future will look like.
The value and benefits of experience
There are several ways to gain experience in a difficult job market. It is important to stay positive and focus on building experience, and your career in challenging times. While many internships and jobs offer are on hold due to temporary business closures and social distancing measures because of COVID 19, you can still gain experience in other ways.
All experiences: voluntary or paid, enable you to add to and develop your skills. All skills are transferable. Volunteering looks great on your CV and will give you excellent examples to use during job interviews. Activities don't have to be directly related to your degree area or planned career.
You will strengthen skills you already have and equip yourself with new skills along the way. Certain skills such as communication, initiative, IT, teamwork, collaboration, and problem-solving are highly sought after by employers. Once you have developed certain skills they become competencies that you will naturally utilise and apply again and again in new situations – this is what is meant by the term “Transferable Skills “ and what makes them valuable.
Employers recognise this, which is why they value all experiences Not only do these types of skills demonstrate your cultural fitness for a company and work environment, but they also show what you can contribute. They are a great way of overcoming a lack of ‘real-world’ relevant professional experience. And they look good on a well-written CV and accompanying cover letter, too, so make sure you include them!
Work experience comes in all shapes and sizes, from volunteering to unpaid internships, to part-time jobs, remote or on location. Whatever means you use, the positive benefits are the same – and that’s effectively presenting yourself as an attractive and viable candidate to employers. The bottom line is that having some work experience demonstrates to employers that you are motivated to develop yourself and learn new things, this plays a huge factor in increasing your attractiveness to employers, gives you something to put on your CV, and also makes for a great addition to your conversation in job interviews. You will have a more varied and substantial range of evidence and life experiences to draw from when you need to demonstrate your skills and what you have to offer.
Building a wide network of contacts is probably the most valuable thing you can do to help yourself in your job search and career development. Whatever your work experience, you will establish relationships and connect with professionals and employees (in person or remotely) from that sector.
All connections can be potentially useful when you are looking for a job, you can be pointed in the direction of vacancies that arise for someone with your knowledge and skillset or, you may be directly recommended and they can provide a positive reference on your CV. It’s important to build rapport with everyone you work/volunteer with, it lays the foundation for positive, professional working relationships: one of the most important factors in personal and professional success and happiness.
Stay in touch with people by sending them a brief email or LinkedIn message to see how they’re doing on a regular basis. Remember building and maintaining a network isn’t just about what others can do for you – it’s also about being open and willing to help others out, too!
Firstly, it’s a good idea to spend some time reviewing the skills you have already developed over the last few years. Your time at UCC has been transformative beyond measure, have you thought about how much you have changed and grown?
You have acquired an impressive skillset through your degree, your part-time and summer employment, undergrad placement, extracurricular interests, and involvement in UCC Clubs & Societies. Now is a good time to do an audit of your skills and identify additional skills that you would like develop. It can be a good idea to review the learning outcomes for your degree, it is a positive reminder of what you have learned during the last few years.
Use these resources to review your skills: Skills for Work and SCOT Analysis.
Finding and gaining experience
Everyone can volunteer, there are opportunities to suit all interests and skills. COVID 19 Volunteer opportunities are currently active nationwide, ranging from deliveries, to DIY, to house decoration for the elderly. You can search for opportunities in your local area using an interactive map.
Remember a key new interview question will be : 'What did you do during the Covid 19 pandemic?'- using this time wisely to build your employability skill will help to you to excel in answering this question.
Volunteer Ireland represent hundreds of organisations, you can register or explore their excellent search engine to find opportunities to match your interests and skills. Volunteer Ireland also have a Professional Skills Share option for companies and businesses to provide professional skills in areas such as IT, Social Media, marketing, HR, leadership, management etc. If you have a level of competency that you can share, why not get in contact with them?
New Communities Partnership (NCP) is an independent national network of more than 150 immigrant-led groups comprising 65 nationalities with offices in Dublin and Cork with outreach to other cities and towns. It is a rich information resource and has also links you to other voluntary agencies.
Through the Volunteer Marketplace, LinkedIn offer members an easy way to find fulfilling board and volunteer opportunities that fit their interests and expertise.
To find out more about the entire range of activities in Ireland, you can got go through the Directory of Voluntary Agencies and identify what interests you.
Maybe you have your own ideas – Have you thought of any ideas during Covid 19 that could make a positive change in your community or to a group of people or business?
Don’t hold back, explore it further. It might be a gamechanger! Changex and Social Entrepreneurs are two great organisations that support other's ideas to drive positive action and change.
The world of business is all around you! Ireland is home to over 700 multinational companies, more than 780 indigenous Enterprise Ireland supported companies and almost 250,000 small and medium sized enterprises.
How to find opportunities
Two essential steps to finding opportunities are Network to access Hidden Jobs and Research.
- Have an updated, impressive CV ready to send.
- Put some thoughtful planning and work into polishing your online profile, your LinkedIn profile is an important communicator of your professional profile, select other social platforms to enhance and consolidate your profile. LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram play dual roles, introducing you to the professional world and they advertise job and internship opportunities at local, national and international levels.
LinkedIn enables you to build networks with professionals, alumni and like-minded people and research an industry or a particular company. Be inspired by graduates who have gone before you: network with past graduates of your degree, find out where they are employed and how they got there. Using UCC’s LinkedIn network of Alumni you can connect with graduates who completed your degree and employers who hire candidates with your degree and skillset.
Twitter: you can follow anyone on Twitter, at any level in an organization : Companies, Employees, Thought Leaders, Alumni. It has a great Job Search Tool – Follow #hashtags and create lists to hear about jobs ahead of being posted to jobsites. #Hashtags “Follow Friday,” which is represented by the hashtag #FF, is a great way for job hunters to get connected with the industry professionals they want to meet.
Instagram is less formal and more personal than LinkedIn. Employers are interested in candidates who are passionate about things, post your passions, are you a foodie or a Yogi? Do you have a dream company you’d love to work for? Go ahead and click “follow” on its Instagram page. Like their photos and integrate into their social story.
Research sectors of interest
Knowledge Empowers You
It will widen your horizons, stimulate ideas and make you aware of the possibilities. Find out about the world of work: the wide and diverse range of career sectors, the trends and job opportunities, who the key employers are and much more by visiting the below websites: