Having worked as an IT specialist Recruitment Consultant, I can appreciate how frustrating it can be for students applying to graduate roles. A lot of companies want to hire people fresh out of university, but also want them to have some commercial experience as well.
So how do you overcome this catch 22?
Placement and/or Summer Internship
Being a student at the University of Bath has many advantages – an opportunity to do a placement year being one of them.
This experience not only provides the prized commercial experience that many employers look for, but it also gives you some insight into what career might suit you best.
For instance, maybe you thought you always wanted to be a Software Programmer, but actually enjoyed being more creative on placement?
Maybe a placement year isn't the right option for you, or you’re in your final year already, or maybe you’ve just missed out on finding the right placement – summer internships are a fantastic alternative to gaining some valuable commercial experience.
Not only will you develop your technical knowledge, but you’ll also gain an understanding of a professional environment. You might have the chance to communicate with clients, or present to professionals, or even work on multiple projects at once. All valuable experiences to get your foot in the door.
Employers will be really keen to know whether you invest your knowledge into projects outside of the classroom.
I’d recommend creating a Github account (if you haven’t already) and uploading example coding projects onto there. Even if this is just utilising basic skills – let the employer know that you enjoy developing and you’re eager to succeed.
Create a ‘Projects’ heading on your CV and highlight projects you have completed, both academically and personally. What languages have you used? Did you achieve a high grade?
There are lots of training courses you can complete to develop your skills and give you that extra edge. Courses include:
- The Code Institute https://www.codeinstitute.net/
- Code First: Girls https://www.codefirstgirls.org.uk/
- Northcoders https://northcoders.com/
- MOOCs http://blogs.bath.ac.uk/careers/2014/12/05/mooc-your-way-to-career-success/
- Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/ - Good basic introductions
- Codecademy https://www.codecademy.com/ - Web design
- EdX https://www.edx.org/ Power BI and DAX
- Future Learn https://www.futurelearn.com/
- Upcase https://thoughtbot.com/upcase
Doing extra training outside of university is a great way to show employers just how determined you are to succeed. Also, prove to employers that you have the necessary skills to work in a commercial environment.
Create a Portfolio
Over the years of your Developing career, you may want to upload projects you do to this site to give a visual representation of what you can achieve.
For now, this could be the online version of your CV. Jazz it up a bit, show off what skills you have and make sure you put the link to it on your original CV!
Links to online portfolio sites:
- www.the-dots.co.uk allows you to create an online portfolio, display your work, network with your peers and connect with companies.
- www.behance.net allows professional designers to showcase their work and discover the creative work of other people.
- www.dribble.com is an invitation-only portfolio platform and the layout is a hybrid of Pinterest and Twitter.
- cargocollective.com is an invitation-only portfolio platform that allows you to follow designers you admire.
Highlight your Interests
Again, employers will be keen to know that you enjoy developing outside of university.
Make sure that you highlight this on your CV if you enjoy:
- Reading up on new languages
- Creating computer games
- Attending programming events
Ask for Feedback
You can book a 15 minute appointment with an Applications Advisor to make sure your CV highlights your skills and experience as best as possible.