This week many freshers start at uni, embarking on the next stage of life as an independent adult. No doubt there will be a few mums secretly wiping away a tear as they see their babies go off for the first time (we’ll be thinking of Felicity today as she sees Ed, her oldest son, off at Swansea Uni – good luck Ed from us all!)
University really is the best time – an exciting few years when students will form friendships that they will keep for the rest of their lives and just spend time learning about a subject they love. Worrying about the big wide world of work can be put on the back burner for a little while at least!
At Leapfrog we actively encourage training young people straight out of university and have recently recruited two intern students to work with us with the view to them becoming junior account executives to ‘learn the ropes’. We received more than 60 CVs when we advertised for the positions – all with students keen to tell me that they were passionate, driven team players. What stood out for me though was how difficult it is for young people today to get a step on the career ladder even when they have been to the best universities and got fantastic qualifications. PR, as with many creative industry jobs, is very competitive, so what stood out for me in those 60 CVs?
Having a degree is an important marker than you have been able to study to a certain level and manage yourself away from home. While a degree in PR, marketing or communications can be a good starting point and it certainly makes it easier for us to train you if you understand the basics, it is not essential. I am all for studying a subject that you loved at school – I studied English Literature, while former colleagues now in senior PR positions have studied History, RE, even Russian Studies and Politics!
What will make your CV stand out with a future employer is not the degree that you have studied or how you got to there either (one of our interns has been home educated, another applicant did an Open University degree part-time while working – now that’s determination!). At Leapfrog we want to see what other things you have done either at school or university in your spare time. Have you done school drama, written for the school magazine, student radio? Have you achieved sporting success or done voluntary work? One of our interns helps out at the local library encouraging children to read while another set up her own blog while at university to give advice on the practicalities of student life.
We look for ambitious, hard-working and committed candidates who are interesting to talk to and who can make a difference to our business. While it helps of course if you can write, spell and know where to use an apostrophe correctly, ambition and drive doesn’t come from keeping your head stuck in a book to get a 1st class honours, or indeed propping up the bar in the Student Union for 3 years.
So while students can leave thinking about work for a few years at least, my advice is to get stuck into to as much as you can while there and enjoy!