Get the right work experience for your degree

Climbing Everest:
RGS has free access to a large collection of photos and documents in its archives

 

October’s Feature asked students to tell Aber Student Media about any advice, work experience, years in employment and years abroad they may have had as part of their course.

Employability is of course one of the main reasons we are all at university. We’ve all read the leaflets, heard the talks from the Careers office and possibly looked up options on line, but we thought it best to let you hear from people who’ve been there and done it.   

I AM A GEOGRAPHY student and in the summer before my first year I did a week’s works experience at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS*). To get this I had to apply beforehand, sending in a personal statement justifying why I should get the placement, as well as a C.V. I was told there were many applicants, so I didn’t get my hopes up too high! It showed me that in order to get even unpaid work experience that you sometimes need to have a good CV and personal statement, especially with more popular organizations.

The Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences (IGES) helped me with my C.V. through tutorials and careers sessions. I was shown how to improve phrasing and structure as well as being encouraged to add in details of extracurricular activities. Very often the entire university experience can help to give you the best ‘real life’ experience for a job, for example, being on the committee of a society or, in my case, getting involved in the Geography Ambassador programme run at IGES.

The Ambassador programme is led by RGS and asks undergraduates to promote Geography in schools, in an attempt to get across how important and relevant the subject is. Positions of responsibility like this tell potential employers that you have passion for the subject you are reading as well as looking brilliant on your CV. The RGS website is worth looking at if you are studying Geography; It helps you explore career options, the ambassador programme and the grants offered by the Society for fieldwork and gap years.

My time at RGS was great and I got to experience what a 9-5 job was really like. Working in a friendly environment that really inspired me has been encouragement to get a good degree and the experiences I need to get a job. I think this work experience will have improved my chances of getting a job, particularly with the RGS, as it is so relevant to my degree.

To get the best career opportunities, a stand out applicant will be the one, not just with a good degree but with the work experience to back it up.

*The Royal Geographical Society was established in 1830 and contributes to education, research, public engagement and policies relating to Geographical topics, as well as curating an extensive collection of photographs, documents etc. relating to discoveries and exploration from around the world: http://www.rgs.org/AboutUs/About+us.htm