It’s guest blogger time again. Over to Maddy Smithers at Creative Process to talk about her experience of jobseeking as a graduate and how internships really do open doors to long term opportunities.

My Experience as a Graduate Finding Work

I graduated with a 1st Class Degree in History with a Year Abroad in June 2016. Following my graduation, I was headhunted for a paid internship with an animation studio, Cutlass Productions, based at Phoenix Brighton. I would strongly encourage any graduate to set-up a LinkedIn profile – the CEO of Cutlass saw my LinkedIn and was impressed with my work experience with three other arts organisations. He emailed me with a job offer on the spot! (see our pages on Using LinkedIn to get the lowdown on creating a profile and getting noticed – ed.)

My long-term ambition is to be an arts entrepreneur with my own art gallery and internships are a great way to develop skills and connections quickly. The arts industry is extremely competitive. By getting work experience on a voluntary basis, I had a great stepping stone into paid internships as employers could see that I was committed to this industry. Although voluntary work can be a financial sacrifice, it paid off as it got me future paid work which I otherwise simply wouldn’t have had the experience to be considered for.

Following the completion of this internship, I successfully applied to another 10-week internship with Creative Process Digital, an apprenticeship and training provider based in Hove. Creative Process is the only company in the UK which provides an intensive course in digital skills training which is free to the participant and gets them a digital skills diploma. This course, The Digital Accelerator, is extremely rewarding to manage as it helps university graduates like myself get the digital skills they need to access great jobs in the Digital Age.

I was given a tremendous amount of autonomy and responsibility during my internship. I managed all social media strategy and content, PR including graphic design of all digital and print marketing and pitched our Digital Accelerator Course at events and careers fairs to organisations and potential participants across Sussex including Brighton and Sussex Universities and Jobcentres.

My internship was incredibly successful from the word go – I increased social media impressions by 35% and mentions by over 70%, our training courses were fully booked and I increased co-operation with other education and jobs providers around Sussex. Perhaps most crucially, I bonded immediately with the team and felt like a crucial part of the company rather than ‘just the intern’.

I was offered a full-time, permanent contract with Creative Process in week 8 of my internship and I’m now their Digital Marketing Manager with a competitive salary at the age of 22.

My advice for university students is not to neglect work experience. Although part-time jobs shelf-stocking and bartending can give you disposable income, these low-level jobs, although paid, do not enhance your CV when it comes to applying for grad schemes or high-level positions*. In the long-term, it is more professionally and financially valuable to get great work experience or internships which are related to your aspiring job field.

(* we’ll have to agree-to-differ a tiny bit on this point. While someone with strong work experience within the sector will have the competitive edge for sure, we’d say don’t underestimate the value of key employability skills – whatever context you gained them in. Download our employability skills framework pdf for more on this – ed.)

If you would like to learn more about our free graduate digital skills training programme, please get in touch with me at maddy.creativeprocess@gmail.com. You’ll also find dates of upcoming courses on our Facebook page.