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Why all work experience is good experience if you want a top graduate job. watch

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    Hi everyone,

    I just thought I would throw my experiences in of why my work experience in life has hugely helped me in my quest for graduate careers. I landed graduate schemes at Shell, Management Consultant firm and Aldi whilst at uni (of which I took Management Consultant firm) and also recently career changed to law and got a training contract with a magic circle law firm. I am currently gaining financial services experience at Asset Management Firm.

    Firstly, I just need to explicitly state that I am not making direct suggestions of what everyone should do and talking for all careers. I am talking about my experiences which have been vast but ultimately n=1.

    As you know, work experience is becoming so important in being an attractive candidate in a variety of careers. This is creating the need for students to get work as they are going through university as the job market (especially top jobs) is very competitive.

    I think we have a pre-conceived idea of what type of work experience you need to stand out on application forms. Year long placements at blue chip companies, internships, vacation schemes etc. I'm not denying these are important; they certainly are. But through my successes at getting jobs in a variety of sectors I thought I would touch on something a little bit outside of those confines.

    The other stuff may objectively sound more impressive but I believe my experience in hospitality industry (mostly restaurants) has helped a lot. Holding down a part time job at university whilst I studied has been seen very favourably by people who have interviewed me. Waiting tables taught me how to deal with pressured situations, liaise between the customer and the kitchen, and generally be able to spot people's personalities and learn how to make their experience better on the night. Some people like jokes, some people like to be left alone. These soft skills and development of empathy come across instantly in interview situations- it's not something you can contrive. So don't be hesitant to get a part time job- even if it's a few hours in a bar, or a saturday job in Sainsbury's.

    I also spent the summer between my penultimate and final year in France working as an au pair for two young babies. The family lived in a house in Brittany and it was extremely remote and they wanted me to speak in French (which was dubious at the time). I had never changed a nappy in my life. I had never got up at 4am to console babies. I had never got up again at 5am to feed them because they're screaming their head off. This is undoubtedly one of the toughest experiences of my life but it demonstrated so much: my ability to go outside of my comfort zone, to adapt to new environments, to challenge myself, and to find reward in helping others.

    When I had my Aldi final interview it was after my stint as an au pair. The managing director (one on one interview) asked me why there had been a delay in my application (my assessment centre was before the au pair thing). I explained where I'd been and what I'd done. He put his pen down and basically said, "All of these questions are redundant, that covers it all and shows so much about you". Sure enough I got the job (but turned it down for various reasons).

    Then recently when I applied to law firms, the firm I got a training contract with picked up on the au pair thing as the work experience they wanted to discuss in my competency interview. Not my time working as a management consultant at Accenture. Not my placement year at GE healthcare. Not even my waitressing jobs. They wanted to find out what I'd done and why and what motivated me. And again I secured this job.

    Don't be afraid to think outside the box, to do something different. Build your CV for your experiences and your roundedness, not to just show an employer that you've ticked boxes. I never thought doing an au pair stint for one summer would be such an important part in these interviews- I did it to gain life experience and to do something different.

    Not only will you truly be a break from the usual candidate and stand out by doing things that aren't standard, you as a person will develop and grow and have something different to offer.

    Feel free to ask me here or via PM about ANY of my experiences at all. There's a lot more I could say but just getting the ball rolling.

    Tagged in a few people I've discussed career stuff with recently.
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    tldr i have a vac scheme leave me alone Ethereal World


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    like a dog loves baths.
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    you should have known i was incapable of being constructive, why tag me smh
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    (Original post by Callous Twits)
    tldr i have a vac scheme leave me alone Ethereal World


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    like a dog loves baths.
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    you should have known i was incapable of being constructive, why tag me smh
    Taking jk love you and running with it.

    I didn't tag you to give you advice per se. I tagged you for the purpose of discussion as I know you like to be constructive at all times.
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    (Original post by Ethereal World)
    I didn't tag you to give you advice per say.
    I believe you.
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    *if it's relevant to what you want to do*
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    (Original post by callous twits)
    i believe you.
    please edit that im dead at my own terrible life
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    (Original post by Ethereal World)
    please edit that im dead at my own terrible life
    No.
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    (Original post by Callous Twits)
    No.
    We've oscillated back into hatred after a period of intense loving.
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    (Original post by Ethereal World)
    We've oscillated back into hatred after a period of intense loving.
    You certainly have a very vivid imagination.
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    Thank you. This was interesting.

    I agree with you.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    Changing nappies at an ungodly hour is going to tell a potential employer more about you than something more glamorous like 'volunteering at a monkey sanctuary in Tanzania'.
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    (Original post by stefano865)
    Changing nappies at an ungodly hour is going to tell a potential employer more about you than something more glamorous like 'volunteering at a monkey sanctuary in Tanzania'.
    Omg Ethereal World can I volunteer at your house?
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    thanks for sharing. More to life than just corporate jobs - what i've learnt so far.
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    (Original post by stefano865)
    Thank you. This was interesting.

    I agree with you.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    Changing nappies at an ungodly hour is going to tell a potential employer more about you than something more glamorous like 'volunteering at a monkey sanctuary in Tanzania'.
    I think the latter, although I know you said it in a tongue in cheek way, is still useful. Like I said the traditional forms of what sounds good is still important but I think it's about thinking what things really make you different-essentially everyone does the same things to stand out....so the consequences of that are obvious. It's also about demonstrating that it's also worth doing things for your benefit as an individual and seeing them as experiences for you, and not doing everything to tick a box. That approach does work to some extent- but I think as things become even more competitive and as top firms are starting to cast the net wider, everyone needs to be mindful of becoming a more rounded individual, irrelevant of what university you attend.
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    (Original post by Callous Twits)
    Omg Ethereal World can I volunteer at your house?
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    (Original post by Ethereal World)
    Oh, sorry, I thought he said Hamster Sanctuary - my bad.
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    TSR Support Team
    (Original post by Ethereal World)
    Hi everyone,

    I just thought I would throw my experiences in of why my work experience in life has hugely helped me in my quest for graduate careers. I landed graduate schemes at Shell, Accenture and Aldi whilst at uni (of which I took Accenture) and also recently career changed to law and got a training contract with a magic circle law firm. I am currently gaining financial services experience at BlackRock (largest asset manager in the world).

    As you know, work experience is becoming so important in being an attractive candidate in a variety of careers. This is creating the need for students to get work as they are going through university as the job market (especially top jobs) is very competitive.

    I think we have a pre-conceived idea of what type of work experience you need to stand out on application forms. Year long placements at blue chip companies, internships, vacation schemes etc. I'm not denying these are important; they certainly are. But through my successes at getting jobs in a variety of sectors I thought I would touch on something a little bit outside of those confines.

    The other stuff may objectively sound more impressive but I believe my experience in hospitality industry (mostly restaurants) has helped a lot. Holding down a part time job at university whilst I studied has been seen very favourably by people who have interviewed me. Waiting tables taught me how to deal with pressured situations, liaise between the customer and the kitchen, and generally be able to spot people's personalities and learn how to make their experience better on the night. Some people like jokes, some people like to be left alone. These soft skills and development of empathy come across instantly in interview situations- it's not something you can contrive. So don't be hesitant to get a part time job- even if it's a few hours in a bar, or a saturday job in Sainsbury's.

    I also spent the summer between my penultimate and final year in France working as an au pair for two young babies. The family lived in a house in Brittany and it was extremely remote and they wanted me to speak in French (which was dubious at the time). I had never changed a nappy in my life. I had never got up at 4am to console babies. I had never got up again at 5am to feed them because they're screaming their head off. This is undoubtedly one of the toughest experiences of my life but it demonstrated so much: my ability to go outside of my comfort zone, to adapt to new environments, to challenge myself, and to find reward in helping others.

    When I had my Aldi final interview it was after my stint as an au pair. The managing director (one on one interview) asked me why there had been a delay in my application (my assessment centre was before the au pair thing). I explained where I'd been and what I'd done. He put his pen down and basically said, "All of these questions are redundant, that covers it all and shows so much about you". Sure enough I got the job (but turned it down for various reasons).

    Then recently when I applied to law firms, the firm I got a training contract with picked up on the au pair thing as the work experience they wanted to discuss in my competency interview. Not my time working as a management consultant at Accenture. Not my placement year at GE healthcare. Not even my waitressing jobs. They wanted to find out what I'd done and why and what motivated me. And again I secured this job.

    Don't be afraid to think outside the box, to do something different. Build your CV for your experiences and your roundedness, not to just show an employer that you've ticked boxes. I never thought doing an au pair stint for one summer would be such an important part in these interviews- I did it to gain life experience and to do something different.

    Not only will you truly be a break from the usual candidate and stand out by doing things that aren't standard, you as a person will develop and grow and have something different to offer.

    Feel free to ask me here or via PM about ANY of my experiences at all. There's a lot more I could say but just getting the ball rolling.

    Tagged in a few people I've discussed career stuff with recently.
    Solid write up!

    Thanks, and I agree with everything you've said here. Formal programmes are great, but, doing unconvential things (i.e. Au Pair, Fundraising etc) is what can really set you apart! Even more important is being able to learn from these experiences and communicate the skills one has gained in doing them across to the interviewer.
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    (Original post by Princepieman)
    Solid write up!

    Thanks, and I agree with everything you've said here. Formal programmes are great, but, doing unconvential things (i.e. Au Pair, Fundraising etc) is what can really set you apart! Even more important is being able to learn from these experiences and communicate the skills one has gained in doing them across to the interviewer.
    This.
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    (Original post by Ethereal World)
    I think the latter, although I know you said it in a tongue in cheek way, is still useful. Like I said the traditional forms of what sounds good is still important but I think it's about thinking what things really make you different-essentially everyone does the same things to stand out....so the consequences of that are obvious. It's also about demonstrating that it's also worth doing things for your benefit as an individual and seeing them as experiences for you, and not doing everything to tick a box. That approach does work to some extent- but I think as things become even more competitive and as top firms are starting to cast the net wider, everyone needs to be mindful of becoming a more rounded individual, irrelevant of what university you attend.

    Absolutely.

    Simply haven't got enough reps for someone like you.
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    (Original post by stefano865)
    Absolutely.

    Simply haven't got enough reps for someone like you.
    :blush:

    Even though I'm way shorter than you thought originally :teehee:
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    Interesting.
 
 
 
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