April is the month of career seminars. As soon as term ended, I started seeing some people in my student halls wearing suits and hurrying outside early in the morning, or looking dishevelled and exhausted in the lift.
Everyone must have the same idea – get the summer internship secured before exams start. I’ve heard that UK students tend to prepare for internships by participating in activities that bulk up their CVs in their first year, do the internship in their second year and then apply for jobs in their final year. It is astonishing to see 20-year-olds going for interviews, participating in seminars run by big-name companies, and getting jobs.
As a student studying overseas, due to graduate in 2020, I don’t have much pressure to get a job yet. Still, this month I have two major career seminars and a few smaller ones aimed at Japanese students. Since Japanese universities start in April and end in March, most local students start their job hunting around August of their penultimate year. However, students studying overseas tend to go to big career forums either to get an internship or an actual job offer right on spot. Lured by the words “career forum”, I decided to participate to get a feel for the job opportunities available for Japanese students studying in the UK.
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First, there are small career seminars held by the organisers of career forums at various universities all over London. In these seminars held before the forum (I went to the one held at Soas, University of London), we were taught how to write a convincing CV, how to look for jobs, how to take online tests and how to get the most out of the forum. Some participants were already in their suits and ties. I was in my pink sweater and jeans. Embarrassing.
Motivated by these small seminars, the next thing I had to do was write my CV. The advice was to provide facts and numbers to convince the interviewer, who will be scrutinising your achievements while at university in London. The questions that we were told would be likely to come up were: what motivated you to study in London? What did you gain here? How can you apply your experience to this particular job?
I found it difficult to capture my time in London in numbers: nine modules, two internships, two volunteering positions and one part time job. Was that enough? Or maybe employers are looking for a different, fresh approach: 12 musicals, three operas, seven trips and five more to go. I scribbled all of that down and sighed at the absurdity of my CV full of irrelevant numbers.
However, I will casually stride into the forum this weekend and spy on the other clever-looking students to get a better idea about this whole job hunting thing.
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