The sun rises in the east…

The world is changing and we students are at the forefront of that change. From the change in tuition fees to the change in the global economy that we will shape and work in as graduates (hopefully), things are changing rapidly.

Several years ago there would be fierce competition to get into university and get a graduate job after three or four years. Now the competition is fierce to just get a one month internship.

As the graduate career market toughens, graduates will have to work harder and be smarter to separate themselves from the competition. Whilst some may think this means doing postgraduate degrees and rubbing shoulders at countless networking events, there is another way.

Internships in China are now becoming increasingly available for Western students and graduates. Pursuing such a course can show development of personal character, adaptability and provide insight into the working culture of the world’s future economic superpower.

As the world becomes a smaller place and students are increasingly internationalising, working abroad is no longer seen as a far-fetched pipe dream. The experience it provides can be just as or indeed more valuable than a post-graduate or professional qualification.

Despite the dire jobs market in the UK, this is an exciting time for internationally minded students.
Do you think interning abroad is a worthwhile pursuit?

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Josh’s story: Looking abroad for internships

(This article is a guest post)

Finding a job in the UK as a graduate is tough. These days it seems finding an internship is just as difficult for various reasons. First of all, competition for internships is fierce as many people who graduated at the peak of the recession in 2009 are still not on the career ladder. They are competing with us newer graduates for a slice of the career pie. Then we have the well-known problem of finding an internship that either pays or at least pays off: leaves you with a worthwhile skill or contacts that can be used as currency when bargaining for a full-time position.

Times in the UK are so drastic on the graduate career front that I’ve lately been thinking of looking abroad.

Whilst there are many opportunities -on the free internship front- open to me in London, the city is so expensive that I’m thinking why not spend (hopefully not waste) a little bit more money and do something totally different and bold? I am thinking of heading over to do a one month internship in China.

Given that everyone is doing internships these days, I think it is a good idea to do an internship with a difference. Placing yourself in a completely different culture and economy (one that could dominate in coming years) is a character building challenge and I think I can add more to an employer in the UK if I have worked abroad.

Avoid internships from hell

Here are three quick tips on how to avoid wasting your precious time and energy:

1. Research the company you are working for in as much detail as possible. This will be essential if you are working for a start-up or SME. Speak to people who work their directly or search the profiles of the founders. MD’s and employees on LinkedIn. How do they present themselves? Are they the kind of people you will fit in with? 

2. Leave: If you feel it is not working, leave. It is unlikely you will be bound by any legal terms and conditions, unless you are being paid. Do explain why you are leaving. Do not treat the workplace like a boring lecture and walk out halfway through.

3. Speak to careers advisers: Before you take up an internship, get some professional advice on what matches your skills. Perhaps there are careers out there you are perfectly suited for but never considered. (Mick Jagger was suited to be an economist. Unfortunately he chose to be a professional junkie instead).

Boosting employability

If you are a graduate looking to widen your career opportunities then work experience is crucial. This may sound paradoxical for graduates. How are you supposed to get your first job if it requires already having worked in a similar job before?

Many large companies these days are taking advantage of the dire economic environment and using unemployed students as interns whilst selling them the spiel of providing them valuable work experience.

If you are looking for an internship you will need to ensure it can directly boost your employment prospects, rather than just ticking a CV box and leaving you with no new skills except making a cold mug of coffee.

So what will that involve?

Think about the global economy today. Over and above your degree, what do employers, particularly those in multinational organisations, require? International awareness. As the global economy shifts from West to East, employers want to hire people who have a cultural awareness of how things work at the other end of the world.

Internships in China are a growing feature on graduate CVs. Now is the time to take advantage of such a thing and you may find ,rather than simply boosting your CV for employment potential back in the West, you land a full-time graduate position in China on completion of your internship, ending up in the heart of the new global economy.

Not only will you have the opportunity to develop professional skills but you will be able to add an element of character building to your CV. Entering and navigating a foreign workplace is an admirable achievement and shows bravery, an open mind and motivation; qualities all sought after by the world’s top employers.

Many Chinese internships organisers also offer you Chinese language programs, again another vital opportunity worth taking advantage of.

Are you willing to take the challenge to boost your job opportunities?

Boosting employability

If you are a graduate looking to widen your career opportunities then work experience is crucial. This may sound paradoxical for graduates. How are you supposed to get your first job if it requires already having worked in a similar job before?

Many large companies these days are taking advantage of the dire economic environment and using unemployed students as interns whilst selling them the spiel of providing them valuable work experience.

If you are looking for an internship you will need to ensure it can directly boost your employment prospects, rather than just ticking a CV box and leaving you with no new skills except making a cold mug of coffee.

So what will that involve?

Think about the global economy today. Over and above your degree, what do employers, particularly those in multinational organisations, require? International awareness. As the global economy shifts from West to East, employers want to hire people who have a cultural awareness of how things work at the other end of the world.

Internships in China are a growing feature on graduate CVs. Now is the time to take advantage of such a thing and you may find ,rather than simply boosting your CV for employment potential back in the West, you land a full-time graduate position in China on completion of your internship, ending up in the heart of the new global economy.

Not only will you have the opportunity to develop professional skills but you will be able to add an element of character building to your CV. Entering and navigating a foreign workplace is an admirable achievement and shows bravery, an open mind and motivation; qualities all sought after by the world’s top employers.

Many Chinese internships organisers also offer you Chinese language programs, again another vital opportunity worth taking advantage of.

Are you willing to take the challenge to boost your job opportunities?

Widen your internship horizons

Looking for an internship that can make you more employable is hard work.

Here are some tips for you.

1. Look for an internship that does more than just give you career skills. Look for something that test your ability to adapt, your ability to learn new things and develop character. This could be done through volunteering for a charity abroad or seeking internships in foreign cultures. Internships in China are a growing, popular trend for those from the West.

2.Meet people who matter: Network. Instead of flying CVs off via email, put yourself in front of people. Look up your local Meetup groups and tap into the ones relevant to your industry.

3. Blog: If you want an internship or full-time job, write a clever, engaging blog about the industry you seek to work in. You may find employers coming to you!

4. Use social media: Many internships and jobs, particularly from small companies, are not advertised on job boards. They will instead be posted on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep up to date by following companies you are interested in.

5. Any experience is better than none at all: If you are struggling to find work in the sector you desire. Look for something related or perhaps even totally different. You may find yourself taking a whole new direction.

6. Advertise: Proactivity is the key to success. Post on Facebook, Twitter etc that you are looking for an internship.

7. Utilise existing contacts: Ask around and some gold may be found!

8. Turn up at the offices of small businesses: Hand them your CV and tell them you are looking for an internship (or paid work if available). Obviously this won’t work at the office of MNC’s. They’ll simply guide you to an interview room politely, then lock you in and arrange for a mental health professsional to come and section you.

9. Repeat all of the above if you do not meet success

10. Repeat all of the above several times. If all else fails, set up your own business!

Make the most of your internship (part 2)

1. Observe the company culture: From dresscode to acceptable humour, you will find out what you need to do to fit in or at least avoid looking like an idiot.

2. Fret not at the odd coffee making request: Surprise, surprise, even the most senior people have to make their own coffee from time to time. We have all heard the nightmares of people promised amazing things through internships yet all they come away with are coffee making skills. You do not want this to happen to you, yet at some point in your internship you will be asked to do menial tasks. Grin and bear it. We all have to do things we hate, even in paid jobs. You might feel belittled but don’t. Do not let the stereotype kill your dreams. So long as you are being asked to do meaningful value adding work, the odd coffee making expedition to the kitchen will not be a bad thing.

3. Utilise EVERYTHING: If you go to the toilet, if you get water from the water-cooler, if you go to get a pen from the stationary cupboard, utilise the moment. Speak to anyone you meet there, find out about them and tell them who you are. You may find some valuable advice or get some insights from people who have been at the business a while. But do not overkill the damm conversation. Remember, people are busy. They have deadlines to meet. Ask two or three quick questions then let them get back to work.

4. Be careful with what you say on social media: You may have had a bad day during your internship. Do not post ” had a bad day at work, totally hated it etc. This will not increase your chances of work at all. Use your common sense.

5. Ban social media for yourself: If you are like many people, finding social media addictive and being unable to censor yourself on it, do not use it for the whole time you are doing your internship. If you are a social media intern, just don’t access your personal accounts.

Make the most of your internship (part 1)

1. Be proactive: Do not just sit around waiting for orders. Employers want to see you use initiative. You are there to learn so ask questions and stretch your limit as much as you can.

2. Do not over stretch your limit: Do not be so inquisitive and over-eager than nobody likes you, or they perceive you as a hindrance.

3. Make friends: If you are invited to any staff nights out, attend. Mingle, network and make friends who can put in good words for you should paid opportunities arise.

4. Be committed: You are an intern, but act like a paid employee. Act as if you are being paid. Get in early, but not too early so you get all your work done by lunchtime. Arrive ten minutes early every day. Do not stay behind late unless you have genuine work to do. It will be obvious you are just trying to impress if you do this and nobody wants to hire someone desperate to impress. If you are asked to stay behind late to work on something, grab the opportunity with both hands. In fact grow an extra pair of hands on the spot and grab it with all four!

5. Be presentable: Even if you are interning at a record label and you don’t have to wear the finest linens, be weary of how you look. Do not turn up with ripped jeans and tacky trainers. Use your common sense.

Got a problem…”hire” an intern

This seems to be the problem with companies hiring today. Rather than hiring staff on full-time contracts they will just suck up the student/graduate pool. Not only does this make life difficult for many graduates seeking PAID work, it also makes life difficult for older workers and those trying to get back on the job market. Why should companies employ someone with experience who will be expensive, when they can “hire” an intern.

 

 

 

Naughty, naughty Cisco Sytems!

They are offering a whole heap of graduate roles as you can see here, mostly for engineers. Yet two of the roles are internships only. Why? Could it be because one of them is in the PR department. Do Cisco not value PR staff, or are they riding the “people are so desperate they will work for free” bandwagon. They are willing to hire full-time engineers so why not PR staff. It is somewhat ridiculous and we are not impressed. We must note the internship is “paid”, but is advertised for undergrads rather than grads. We can safely estimate it will be paying very little. Are budgets tight at Cisco or are the execs greedy?