As a university student the pressure of gaining work experience in today’s world is a necessity. The level of competition has increased and even passing with flying colours will not guarantee you a job. After investing £27,000 in tuition fees plus the thousands and thousands of pounds on accommodation, the dream outcome for any student is to secure a place on an excellent graduation scheme. So we students constantly look for opportunities to add that extra edge to be able to stand out when joining the long queue of job seekers. And what better way to do that than getting work experience while at uni?
Working with large global companies with strong brands is considered to be highly valued by any student or employer whilst start ups or smaller business are often overlooked. Big organisations are perceived to be more appealing as they can provide higher paid salaries, expense accounts along with fancy job titles and the possibility of international travel.
However, young people looking at this glamorous lifestyle are not aware that it would take countless years for them to achieve this. On top of this graduate responsibilities are more limited in a large corporate which restricts our potential and room to flourish. All of a sudden the dream grad scheme sounds less tempting.
My experience of internships in two vastly different organisations has taught me that the glitter and glamour does not come with a corporate scheme. When I landed an internship with a large global financial services organisation I thought I had hit the ground running! But I can honestly say my experience was a surprise and not in a good way. My daily tasks involved enhancing my coffee skills – so not mixing up the lattes with the mochas – plus photocopying, printing and shadowing the receptionist. I understood this was my opportunity to learn to be professional so I had to start with the most basic tasks but what still perplexes me is the fact that this internship had an intense two month recruiting process, where top academic record was crucial. This internship has opened up so many doors for me simply because of the company’s renowned brand.
This summer I applied for an internship with a small London based strategy consultancy. After passing the interview with the CEO I joined MetaValue. I have been here for only a short while but have gained a greater understanding of the way a business is structured. As part of a small team you are able to gain experience in every aspect and explore all areas from finance to marketing. The term internship often comes with negative connotations but my experience working in an SME has been as an ‘equal,’ attending meetings, discussing new products and being a part of a team. The knowledge and skills I have developed throughout this experience can be applied to any future job – to me this is fundamental and is what an internship should be about.
The small fact we often forget is that the idea of an internship is to gain real-world experience of working, so we get to know our natural strengths, weaknesses and areas of interest a little better and of course learn the basics of what it takes to be a professional. I’d like to see universities and large companies encouraging and recognising smaller businesses on students CV’s as from my experience they give the most realistic insight into the working world.
Intern at MetaValue