Hellie, a 2nd year student at Exeter Uni, shares her tips for boosting your employability through virtual internships and CV building.   

The coronavirus crisis has brought many challenges for young people. It has made it more difficult to find work and internships. Which has hampered our efforts to develop our CV’s.

It can be frustrating leaving school or university and then feel like you are losing valuable time and experiences.

So I am going to share my 7 top tips for developing your CV and experience during lockdown. Making the most of this time and finding remote working opportunities.

1. Finding remote or virtual internships and work experience

I, like many students across the country, have had my summer internships cancelled or postponed indefinitely. This is stressful when you want to gain valuable work experience in order to progress and stand out. However there are still ways you can find remote or virtual internships.

Companies like Indeed that advertise job and internship openings, are a great place to start. LinkedIn is also good for building your network and finding work. You can set what industries and jobs you want to see in your feed, as well as search for them manually.

If you are at university you may also find it helpful to look at their career website, as often there are job postings or internships available. At Exeter a lot of these opportunities have now been made available as paid remote or virtual internships.

2. Be proactive!

Another key way to find opportunities is to take the initiative. Researching companies and industries that interest me has actually been more beneficial than making job applications via websites. Most of the internship opportunities I gained this year were from contacting people I met at networking events. Of course, you won’t always get an email back, and you won’t always get a job. However, being proactive by contacting companies, offering your help, asking for an opportunity – even if it is unpaid – can go a long way. I have also found it a really useful way to identify what I want to do and which companies that are out there in my field.

3. Develop your interests

Expanding your interests, outside of your studies, is an important way to establish a wider experience and skill set. Whether by doing extra-curricular activities, such as sports or drama, or by actually developing an interest in your particular field. By using this extra time to research topics surrounding your career path you can grow your knowledge of the field, and stay up to date. This is especially important if you are looking to apply for a job soon and want to stand out further from the crowd.

Employers generally prefer to have passionate and driven employees. So demonstrating this through your interests and experiences is a great start. This is also important when applying to university. They want to see students who are highly motivated with a wide range of interests.

4. Online learning & courses

With all this extra time you could also consider taking an online course. There are currently so many free online courses available from various universities including; Yale, Harvard,and Columbia. They teach subjects from game development and web programming to Shakespeare, Law and Architecture. There is a diverse range available and something to suit everyone. So, if you have the time, I would highly recommend you do a short online course outside of your studies or work. This kind of personal development is so valuable and looks good to employers too.

5. Volunteering

Volunteering opportunities have declined, however there are some key sectors, that need support now more than ever. You will find many local and national efforts that require volunteer help during this time. For example, Age UK are looking for volunteers as well as the NHS and Trussell Trust. I also saw on LinkedIn that a student – who due to cancelled internships – decided to train as a 111 call responder.

If you want to support a charity, but can’t volunteer, you could try fundraising. Doing something new and challenging to raise money for charity is a great use of your time and can help you stand out from the crowd. It shows initiative and tenacity, both valuable qualities to employers.

6. Practice job applications and cover letters

If you have lots of spare time use it to familiarise yourself with job applications and cover letters. It sounds like the most mundane exercise but if you are unfamiliar with job applications, or haven’t done one in a while, take the opportunity to get some practice. Luckily at university I have had really useful career sessions which have been specifically on this. However if you google search ‘tips for job applications’ there are thousands of results that show you what employers want to see. By using these and practicing writing your own, you will showcase yourself in the best possible light and better prepare yourself for the future. Practising now will help when it comes to doing your next job application.

7. Develop your CV and LinkedIn profile

Creating a LinkedIn profile is an excellent way to network and to keep up to date with your field. As LinkedIn is not only a great networking platform but also a really good place to find a job. Set up your profile and use it to connect with people you know and people in your field of interest. Then regularly engage with your connections through their posts and by creating your own. It is also a good place to show off any research or projects etc. as you can write articles there to promote them.

Also make sure you add your virtual internships and volunteering to your CV and LinkedIn profile. I make sure all the information on mine is up to date and relevant, by updating it regularly. Any time I get a new opportunity I add it straight away. Keeping everything up to date means you are best prepared for new opportunities and when you next apply for a job.

I hope you find these tips useful for helping to boost your employability during this difficult time. If you have any questions or comments, or would like to add some of your own, contact us at info@catalysechange.com www.catalysechange.com

This blog from Hellie was inspired by our recent Virtual CV building masterclass check out our online programmes if you are interested to find out more.