When to look for work?

Just started a four year course in media studies and not sure when to think about looking for jobs WDYT? It wouldn't have occurred to me except a couple of my course mates are already talking about this. I'd assumed that it wouldn't be necessary until my third year (when there's a six month outside project) an obviously in my final year. Ax

In a competitive environment, start to prepare yourself sooner rather than later. That doesn't mean looking for actual jobs today, but it does mean getting ready to start building up your experience whenever and wherever you can.

Always bear in mind that, for larger organisations recruiting graduates, one third of all their vacancies will be filled with people already known to them, according to a High Fliers Research report.

That strongly suggests that, as you follow your degree, you use every opportunity to a) make contact with organisations and b) build up relevant work experience.

Focus on the following opportunities to gain relevant work experience:

  • holidays;
  • part-time and weekends;
  • major project periods;
  • casual paid freelance work;
  • pro-bono freelance work;
  • unpaid voluntary work;
  • organisational sponsorship;
  • internships;
  • relevant competition work.

Additionally, use any opportunity to build up your contacts with people in the sort of organisations you want to work for. Get to know them well, hang out with them.

Isn't this all a bit heavy duty for this early in a degree course, I hear you wondering? Yes, it is. But any effort you put in through your first year may well pay you back literally a thousand fold later.

Also, I hate to sound like your dad, but get the best results you can in your first year. Employers look at first year results more and more now, as the means to spot people with some potential. Everyone knows year one is the year to go nuts with your social life and wider experiences. So if, despite doing all that, you appear to have turned in really good results, no prizes for guessing who gets flagged as the one with potential when it comes to awarding the best projects and internships toward the end of year 2.

I'd suggest you don't get stressed about all of this. See it as just another process to go through. Look at it positively and plan to enjoy it!

After all, if you get it right, someone is going to give you a damn good job and lots of money as a result.

Good luck.

By Jon Gregory