How to leverage your work placement and/or internship for future career success

15 August 2022

Undergraduate Careers Coach, Comfort Asaolu, shares tips on how to leverage your work placement or internship.

In the current economic climate and highly competitive job market, employers are looking for relevant experience which backs up your academic abilities and demonstrates your 'soft skills’.  An internship or work placement highlights to employers that you have some understanding of what it’s like to work and that you will have gained some of the basic employability skills they want.

As the summer is here and you are nearing the end of your work experience, you might be wondering what is next. How can you apply what you have learned to something that will both enhance and improve you as an applicant? Here are five ways to leverage your work experience:

  1. Identify your transferable skills and achievements

Think about the skills you consider strengths and the ones that could be improved. Skills that employers are looking for can be developed in a variety of ways. When identifying which skills you have developed, consider which ones were required to complete the tasks and responsibilities of your role.

Some key employability skills include:

  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Organising and planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Taking initiative and being proactive

“A great way to leverage your work experience moving forward is by evaluating the interests you developed through your job role to help out with picking module choices. Furthermore, try to continue to develop your skills and knowledge. I enhanced my excel skills during my work experience and will be taking courses over the summer to further develop this as it was an integral part of several job roles. Also, don’t forget to update your CV and leverage the work experience you’ve done whilst speaking with recruiters.”

Vidhi Ahulwalia, BSc Management

Completed her placement year at Vodafone

  1. Update your CV and LinkedIn account

Once you have identified which transferable skills you have developed, highlight them on your CV with strong action words and quantifiable results. For current WBS students, if you need support with this, you can check out our online resources, e.g. the webinar on writing a CV, and/or book a one-one appointment with a Careers Coach. Maintaining a LinkedIn profile is a smart way to show your skills and qualifications to employers – and potentially have recruiters approach you. You can maximise your reach by highlighting the relevant skills on your LinkedIn profile.

  1. Be proactive & network – build your network for lasting impact

It’s very important to develop valuable connections during your work placement or internship by getting to know fellow interns and other colleagues. Cultural fit is a key consideration for employers so prioritise building relationships, engaging in social activities, and going the extra mile. Try to meet people across different departments who can inform you about the company and their roles. You might find that they help you discover a new career path or assist you in a future position. Staying in touch is the most effortless piece of advice for networking. Be sure to collect business cards, connect on LinkedIn, and thank your employer for the experience during your time with the company. 

"Always be proactive in reaching out to people across your division and be reliable for the tasks you promise to deliver. Listen carefully to the project instructions, make notes, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Lastly, keep track of your tasks in a work diary which can later help you reflect and decide if you want a full-time role in this division or not!"

Purvi Agarwal, BSc Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship*

Completed her placement year at Vertex Pharmaceuticals 

  1. Keep a record

A good way to do this is to complete a skills audit and keep a record of your achievements and the impact you have had. Also, reflect on the overall experience and highlight any examples of ways you overcame difficulties or demonstrated your problem-solving skills. If you have had a particularly good (or bad) day –what went well or badly, and what were your actions and key contributions? What would you do differently in the future?

Be sure to keep this ‘bank’ of examples as it will be really useful for future applications and interviews. For behavioural questions especially, your experiences during a placement year or internship would be a valuable addition.

  1. State Your Intentions

Express your interest in future opportunities with the company, especially to your supervisor or whomever else you have connected with who may be involved in hiring. You may be asked to undergo interviewing again before you leave, which is a great sign. Some questions you might be asked include:

  • Tell me about a time when you showed initiative and took the lead
  • Tell me about a time when you stepped outside of your comfort zone and what were the results

Showcase what you have learned and accomplished and finish the meeting with a strong closing, again stating your explicit interest.

An employer’s perspective: "Make sure to learn as much as possible from as many people as possible! Leveraging your colleagues' expertise is key to making the most of your experience. And don't be afraid to ask questions."

Sofia Barbosa Associate - Corporate Accounts - Client Service Team at Alphasights

For current WBS students, you can access our careers resources and book an appointment with us here. We are also open during vacation periods.

*We no longer offer this course as part of our undergraduate portfolio however our course pathways in Digital Business, Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Marketing are available on our BSc Management and BSc International Management courses allowing you to focus your studies around a particular subject

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