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The graduate careers that start now

The graduate careers that start now

If you want to be a high-flier, or simply have an interest in a specific career route, bear in mind that there are some graduate careers you need to start thinking about early: get started now to put yourself on track for success in sectors like banking, law and journalism.
For some graduate careers, you really do need to start thinking early.

'How can I get experience if you won't give me a job?' This is a common complaint from graduates trying to get their careers off the ground, particularly in the most competitive sectors, and it's an infuriating situation to be in. You could finish uni, decide on a job that you really like, apply and then get rejected because everyone has more experience than you. For some graduate careers, you really do need to start thinking early, and the best way to avoid the experience trap is forward planning.

It's true that most graduate recruiters want you to have some work experience, but a select few sectors demand that you have significant sector-specific experience under your belt. It may surprise you to discover which jobs these are, so we thought we'd let you know now - while you still can do something about it.

What are these graduate careers that start early then?

There's no way round this. For most graduate careers, the earlier you start thinking about work experience the better. If you want to work for a big graduate employer, you're likely to be up against stiff competition and work experience will help you stand out. Different professions have their own variation on the starting-early theme, but getting a foot in the door in good time will stand you in good stead whatever your aspirations. Work experience in any area is likely to help you develop transferable skills that will boost your prospects of finding employment when you graduate.

Investment banking is ideally approached through the medium of the internship. This is a well-paid summer placement that wannabe traders and corporate financiers undertake during the summer before their final year. However, the deadlines start to arrive by Christmas of your second year. And unfortunately, these internships are so competitive that it's almost essential to have a bit of work experience (that is also reasonably relevant) in order to get a place. In other words, get thee to a careers service quickly. You'll find that the big banks often run taster events and open days, sometimes known as insight days or weeks, which are often targeted at first years.

Journalism is almost as competitive as investment banking and there are very few formal placements... yet it's generally only those with considerable journalistic experience who get the jobs. The trick here is to get involved with student journalism as early as you can. Like now. Then, in your second year, you can start firing off speculative applications, consisting of a CV, covering letter and samples of your best work, for a vacation job (quite probably unpaid). The same goes for other media jobs and, increasingly, publishing jobs in general.

Law if you're a law student, did you realise that applications for training contracts (trainee solicitor posts in other words) have to be in by the summer of your second year? And applications for vacation placements have to be in early in that year too.

Academia can be intensely competitive. If you fancy working towards a PhD in an arts subject in about six years' time, bear in mind that funding is scarce and you'll almost certainly need a first to get a PhD place. Even if your first-year results aren't going to affect your final degree very much, you do need to knuckle down immediately to impress the tutors who could one day be your referees, or your supervisor if you choose to stay at your current university.

Thinking of qualifying as a teacher or social worker after you graduate? You'll need relevant work experience when you apply for training courses. 

Most companies that recruit graduates in large numbers, including management consultancies and accountancy firms, run internship programmes and some offer insight days or weeks aimed at first years. Big employers may offer internships in marketing and HR as well as in areas such as finance and IT. 

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