Internships helped me develop teamwork and leadership skills

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Shriya

When deciding to study English Literature at university, I didn’t have any clear career ideas in mind, but chose to go to university as it seemed the most logical thing to do after working hard at school and enjoying it so much. I decided to study English Literature as I believed it would develop skills that were transferable into a wide variety of jobs. When choosing which university to go to, I wanted to attend a university that was recognised as being a good one and so looked at the university league tables, as I believed this would have a big impact on future career prospects.

It was in my second year at university that I really began to consider my career, despite not knowing what to do. I found that graduate schemes were widely talked about but didn’t really know what they were. The main action that I took to prepare for my career whilst at university was to get involved in a lot more things outside my degree. This included going on a summer internship in Sri Lanka for three and a half months and volunteering for a disabled charity. I believe this internship was the best thing I did as it was completely different and helped to develop teamwork and leadership skills.

While getting involved with these extra-curricular activities I found it difficult to balance them with my academic work and, especially, applying for graduating jobs. Despite this, the work experience that I completed meant that I had a clear understanding of what employers were looking for in graduates. I used ‘The Times Top 100 Employers’ to identify graduate schemes and in my final year at university applied for those I found interesting.

I decided to book a careers advice talk at the careers centre at university during this time to help with job application skills. I found it useful especially learning about assessment centres which was helpful when taking part in one for a graduate scheme. I was successful in this and started work on the NHS graduate scheme shortly after graduating and believe I was successful because of the personal qualities I developed through volunteering and work experience. Although it isn’t the kind of job I expected to be in when starting university, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Reflecting on my experience, I am extremely happy with everything I did and believe that the things I got involved in at university were amazing and would not have been available outside university. I would advise current students to increase your skills sets so that you’re very versatile and can adapt to different situations as it doesn’t really matter what work environment you go into as there’s a lot of similarities between different sorts of companies and job roles.