Is an internship the only way to find the job you want?

Starting to consider graduate jobs is a tough time for most young people.  If you are not one of the lucky ones who knew from the age of seven that you wanted to be a doctor or a scientist,  even deciding when to start can present all sorts of issues.  Even for those who know the direction they want to go in, it is not always easy to know how best to go about it.  Will a graduate scheme be the only way to get a foot on your chosen career ladder?  Or should you start applying for internship positions to build experience and make contacts?
University careers centres can be very helpful with these kind of questions, but turning up with no concept of what you want from your future, and asking them to wave a magic wand and come up with all the answers is unlikely to yield results.  These careers professionals are very well informed about the best way to get into the majority of graduate careers, but are less likely to have a good grasp of your skills, interests and background.  So it is often not worth making appointments with careers advisers until you have at least some concept of what they might be able to help you with, and the sector or roles you are interested in.  This can be as vague as ‘media’, ‘health’ or ‘consultancy’, as the careers advisors will be able to tell you more about the possible roles and graduate jobs that are available in each sector.

It is good to get thinking as early on as possible what the best route in your chosen career might be.  The reason for this is simple – applications for graduate schemes and internship positions can open as early as September in your final year of being an undergraduate.  For those who need to be interning in order to gain experience in their chosen career, it is often advisable to start applying for internships in your first year, so that you can gain experience in every university vacation.  Graduates thinking about law, journalism and advertising will thank themselves later if they have invested this time in gaining contacts and skills during their holidays.  Those interested in more corporate jobs such as accounting and finance will often find that a graduate scheme is the best way in, but your application to one of these is much more likely to be successful if you have completed an internship prior to your application.

Graduate jobs need not be a headache if you invest in a little bit of preparation.  Whether it is internship positions or a graduate scheme that will help you achieve your goals, all you need to do is decide what they are as soon as possible, and you should find yourself on a smooth path to success.

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