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Job Journeys: Why You Need More Than Just Your Degree On A Job Application

As valuable as a degree can be for helping you to secure the job you want, having work experience or other activities on your CV is equally as important. It’s your chance to show off your personality and demonstrate your skills to employers, as well as stand out from other candidates.

Depending on your degree, this could involve a range of different things. In my last post, which was about the best ways to choose the right career path, I mentioned that I got involved in some work experience across a range of fields in the music industry to get an idea of what different jobs are like.

This not only helped me to find what career I would like but also gave me a lot to talk about on my CV alongside my degree.

What have I done to grow my CV?

I’ve taken on a few different experiences to diversify my CV and give me lots to talk about on my application. One of these has been volunteering within the music industry, mainly in live events.

I worked with DF Concerts helping them run events over the summer this year, such as TRNSMT and CONNECT festival. I found this opportunity through my university after we had a guest lecture from a member of staff at DF.

They wanted students on relevant courses to have this opportunity as they knew it would help build good application skills, and so if you have any opportunities like this through your university, I’d suggest getting involved with them as it’s a great way to easily add to your CV and have fun whilst doing it.

Have you considered charity work?

Another volunteer project I’ve been involved in is with Talking Heads mental health charity creating music and other art pieces to be presented at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival this year.

I found this opportunity through my university newsletter, so it’s always a good idea to read those sorts of things so you don’t miss out on any opportunities you might be keen on.

These volunteer experiences have really helped build some skills that I can take with me into a grad job, such as working with new people and being more independent.

Even if the work or experiences you are getting involved with aren’t directly related to your degree, it can still be great to mention anything you’ve learnt from them that could be relevant to the job you are applying for, for example, if it built your confidence or helped you to become more outgoing.

Taken any cool career-related trips?

Through my course, I got the chance to travel to Belgium for a week for a songwriting placement. As well as having fun and learning about music in other countries, I got to improve my teamwork and collaboration skills which are important to have in most of the jobs I’m looking for.

Work for your university and nearby businesses

I saw my university was advertising for students to work as Ambassadors to promote the uni through different events and student support roles, and I have been working for them for just over a year. It’s been a great chance to try something new that isn’t directly related to my degree, whilst still giving me good experience to add to my CV.

Another job I have been doing is working at music events as bar staff and stewarding. This has been really rewarding and adds some variety to my application.

What other relevant experience do you have?

I had to complete some projects on my course at university where I started a blog related to music and travel. I got some good experience writing and researching this topic, as well as learning about marketing it.

This is something else that I find people often overlook when it comes to writing their applications. Projects you have undertaken and managed, even if for a university project, can still serve as good experiences to mention.

Always be on the lookout for new opportunities

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I’ve been currently writing for Student Beans for their Futureproof series, Job Journeys, which has been a really valuable thing to add to my CV. I found this opportunity after subscribing to the Student Beans mailing list, where they advertised the role.

Student-oriented blogs such as Student Beans share a lot of relevant student job and volunteer news, so be sure to sign up for these so you don’t miss out.

Signing up for newsletters for companies you might want to work for is another great way to be the first to know of any upcoming opportunities that could be interesting to you.

Internships are also a great way to gain some valuable experience for future job applications and can give you a chance to get real-world experience in a similar job, and even open the door for connections to potential employers.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance yet to be involved with one, however, I am applying for the Saltire Scholars Internship Scheme this year to have the chance to complete one next summer.

What are the best places to find these opportunities?

  1. Work experience is a great way to build upon weaknesses and pick up important skills.
  2. Reach out to your university to ask if they have any opportunities available and keep an eye on any newsletters or communication from them too.
  3. Speaking to a careers advisor at your university might also be helpful to get course-specific experience, or to discuss what might be best for you and your needs.
  4. Sign up to Student Beans and other student-specific blogs to stay in the know about any cool things that you could be involved with.
  5. Getting involved in local community work, like I am doing with the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, can also be a great experience, so have a look online for any events happening local to you that may be looking for volunteers.
  6. Look for opportunities that you are passionate about and that help to showcase your personality and interests.
  7. Don’t be afraid to try new things and say yes to opportunities that come your way!

Want more ideas for bolstering your job application? Check out our careers hub, Futureproof.