It’s a frustratingly familiar situation for many students. You’ve got through your A Levels, and you’ve worked so hard to get the entry grades for your first choice University. Fast forward to your second year, after a relatively laid back first year, suddenly there’s talk of what work experience you did over summer. University staff are asking what internships you're planning on doing next year, and worryingly, what you're planning to do after you graduate. It may initially be more comforting to bury your head in the sand. You're going to a good University and you’ve had good grades all your life, so surely you don’t need to overload yourself with the additional stress of sorting out an internship or work placement, right?
As much as we might wish that a good degree from a top University would mean a straight shot into the top graduate schemes or jobs, unfortunately this is not the case. The current Graduate job market is more competitive than it has been for many years. According to a research paper by Highfliers, the number of graduates hired by organisations featured in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers fell by 4.9% in 2017 compared to the previous year. This was the first drop in graduate recruitment for five years, and the biggest annual fall recorded since 2009. Crucially, over a third of companies asked, warned that it was either ‘not very likely’ or ‘not at all likely’ that a graduate who had no previous work experience at all would be successful during their selection process. It is also very unlikely they would be made a job offer, irrespective of their academic achievements or the university they had attended.
This may seem daunting, but it also means that securing a placement can provide you with an invaluable edge when it comes to eventually applying for graduate positions. Even if, as many people expect to happen, you don’t secure a graduate job offer at the end of your placement, the skills you’ve developed will be transferable to many different roles in future. Starting this process is intimidating, but that’s where Pathfinder comes in. Pathfinder is a comprehensive careers platform that helps you through every stage.
How does it do work?
1) Psychometric testing:
It would be an incredibly time-consuming task to trawl through the responsibilities of every single job role, in every single job sector known to man. Especially so if your search turns up several career paths that require a different degree specialism to yours, or an entirely different skill set than yours. Rather than presenting a mass of potentially irrelevant or unfeasible options, Pathfinder software uses advanced career testing to match your skills and personality traits to the most compatible industries. Through ‘Interest tests’ and ‘Work values tests’, Pathfinder can formulate industry matches specifically for you. Furthermore, it offers six ‘Abilities tests’ including verbal and arithmetic reasoning, to help identify your strengths, and match you to an industry accordingly. In addition, it also features a comprehensive 'Industry Database' which covers more than 160 sectors, enabling you to conduct thorough research into your area of interest. Now you have more a firm idea of where you want to be, the next step is to try to secure a work placement or internship in that industry.
2) Finding your internship:
Pathfinder has an expansive database of over 50 million companies. You can start by searching the database for internships, refining your search by detailing your preferred industry, geographical location and position, such as simply searching ‘intern’ or ‘analyst’. You can even filter specifically to find companies that offer Visa sponsorship. Once you find an internship or placement that appeals to you, learning about the company who is offering it is essential. If you choose to apply to two or three internships offered by different companies, you will be expected to understand what makes each of them tick. Again, this is where Pathfinder can help. Pathfinder offers individual company profiles linked to the firm’s social media feeds. They contain information about the roles that are currently open, as well as the business’ involvement in recent news. So, you have now narrowed down your search, and have a specific internship in mind, with knowledge of the company behind it. Next, you want to nail your application.
3) Doing your research:
The Pathfinder library makes reading around your company of interest a breeze, it recommends a list of books, articles and newspapers that will provide you with a thorough understanding of the organisation and industry you’re going to be getting in to. It’s also gathered all the names of key industry leaders, their names and their bios. Gaining that ever elusive ‘commercial awareness’ will be crucial in setting you apart in both your application and any subsequent interviews. Couple this with the reassurance of knowing your skill set has specifically been matched with this industry, and you should be feeling confident about your chances of securing the internship you really want.
4) Career development and networking:
The creators of Pathfinder software have also gathered the best seminars, classes and workshops relevant to your industry and put them all in one place, and you can filter them by geographical location. Networking is another crucial element of any career journey, and the platform gathers information of various industry specific ‘meet-ups’ that will enable you to do so. Finally, Pathfinder enables you to explore potential professional qualifications that may further set you apart from other applicants. It all seems amazing, but potentially difficult to keep on top of, which is why the platform’s career manager will be your go-to tool for staying focussed on your internship search.
5) Individual careers management:
Pathfinder’s application manager puts all your current applications into one place, with all the information on the specific role you applied for. Perhaps the most important tool is the calendar, into which you can place all your seminars, events, application deadlines and interviews, and sync this up with your normal calendar. It also features a to-do-list section, for staying on top of your daily goals.
So, finding an internship or work placement you really enjoy that will contribute to your future career, doesn’t need to be stressful. Securing that crucial experience on top of a good degree is what enables you to present yourself as an attractive prospect for a Graduate scheme, and with the help of Pathfinder, you can get to wherever you want to be.