Gaining work experience as a first year



As a first-year student, you’re relatively new to your course, never mind the world of work, which can make landing an internship difficult. In order to guarantee your future success in your second or third year, especially if you want to get a paid internship, you have to do some preliminary work.  And yes, it will most likely have to be for free.

Think about it this way: as a first year, you have a lot more time than you will later on in your studies, so sacrifice some of this extra time.  I knew that over the Easter period I’d most likely be sat at home not doing much, so instead, I started reaching out to companies.  In-between all of your (assumedly) hard studying, you will also get long Summer breaks to fill your time with potential internships which will help you further your education, CV and skill-set.

Below you’ll find the steps I took to secure two weeks’ work experience with a London digital marketing agency.

1.    Do your research

Find out what any given company in the sector you’re interested in does and offer your skills.  For example, Social Media Ltd performs online marketing which often requires the help of a web developer – I can do that! It’s also worth taking the time to do some extensive research into the company history to give you an advantage against the other potential interns.

2.    Plan your approach and build a relationship

This means thinking about what you’re going to say before calling or emailing.  Explain who you are and what you have to offer – I’m a first-year Computing for Digital Media student and I can code in Java and HTML, two of the most commonly used web languages. 

I called them up offering to help them with some of their projects over the Easter break.  They kindly said they would let me know, I took down the name of the person I was talking to and decided to call them every week or so to see if they had followed up on my request.

3.    Persistence is key

You will likely have to do this for many companies but even if they reject you, you’re building connections!  Maybe they will have something over the summer, maybe they will consider you for next year. Either way, persistence will always get you results. You will be part of the team before you know it.

4.    Enjoy the rewards

People I spoke to had lots of advice for me on my hunt and as I contacted companies I got a better feel for what they wanted to hear from me.  After just over a month of phone calls, I got two weeks work experience at a top agency and a first step onto the career ladder!

Taking the time to pursue a relevant internship whilst in your first year of University is massively worthwhile. You will be one step ahead of other prospective employees when you are released into the competitive world of work after graduation and can begin your career without any hiccups!


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