The race to find relevant work experience

When Goldman Sachs advertised its summer internship scheme in the United States last year it was inundated with more than 17,000 applications — almost 50 for every place. At Google, a record 40,000 young people battled for its work placement programme, reportedly making it harder for students to get into the Internet search engine for the summer than into a full degree course at Harvard or Yale. But should we be surprised that brainy young things are going to such lengths for a taste of life inside some of the world’s biggest companies? A few years ago, a decent degree from a good university would all but guarantee a graduate a reasonably respectable job. Not any more.

Official figures published last week showed that record numbers of students — almost seven in 10 — left university in this country last summer with a first or 2:1.

In short, a decent degree is now a minimum requirement; something that simply gets a graduate onto an employer’s longlist but scarcely merits a second look in its own right.

It’s what they do to furnish their CV that really counts. And — much more than a bit of community work, captaining the football team or editing the student newspaper — it is committed work experience that employers seek.

So the 450,000 people preparing to start degrees this September should have little time for the wasteful elements of campus life if they’re going to get ahead in the jobs race.

Traditionally, internships and industrial placements have been the preserve of those wealthier students with well-connected parents, who can afford to work for free during the summer.

But — for all Nick Clegg’s warnings of the continuing monopoly of the old boy’s network — things are, slowly, becoming more meritocratic.

Large numbers of universities — Aston for one — advertise four-year sandwich courses as a standard option for students, including three years in the lecture hall and one accumulating hands-on experience in the workplace.

For those unwilling or unable to extend their degree by 12 months, dozens of other universities are embedding “employability” modules within all courses, covering areas such as writing a CV, making a presentation, business etiquette, timekeeping and training with local employers.

In addition, a recent survey of Britain’s 100 top graduate recruiters found eight in 10 were offering paid work experience programmes during the 2013-14 academic year alone — creating a record 11,819 placements.

In many cases, they run introductory courses, open days and other taster experiences specifically aimed at first-year students.

So, in short, the message being relayed by business is clear: getting hold of decent work experience is just as — if not more — valuable for students than the degree certificate they ultimately graduate with.

Read the full original article here.

What on earth is Nick Clegg talking about?! Work placements are open to all, and all placements featured by Placement UK carry a decent living allowance. So you don’t need to be rich! (Politicians, eh?!)