Business and management
In order to pursue a role within the sector – be it within business management, management consultancy or a role linked to finance – gaining experience can be beneficial in helping you to gain the transferable skills that employers seek.
This could potentially include some part-time work within a business or within sales or retail. Developing administration skills and interpersonal skills, in addition to the ability to work within a fast-paced environment will be invaluable experience and will help to enhance your CV or application.
Competition in this sector, especially for Graduate Scheme opportunities, is fierce and relevant work experience could be the deciding factor when trying to secure a position. However, finding experience can take time and will take effort; employers receive many CVs and applications each week, so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through our website or attend the drop-in service offered throughout the year.
Types of opportunities
Placements usually last between 6-12 months and can be taken as part of your degree programme. If you are interested in completing a placement year, speak to your Faculty Placement Team.
You can also find placements independently through:
Enhance your prospects with hands-on experience through volunteering. Whether you're uncertain about your career path or aiming for professional success, volunteering offers a chance to explore diverse roles. Discover opportunities through MyCareer's 'Volunteering Bank', listing roles like:
- Volunteer Coordinator with Citizens Advice Portsmouth
- Funding Researcher with Portsmouth Foodbank
- Administration Volunteer with The Roberts Centre
- Reception Volunteer with Age UK Portsmouth
Many large companies and financial firms have created their own work experience programmes that are specifically targeted towards students who come from a diverse range of backgrounds; often those who have faced disadvantages or prejudices because of their identity or experiences. Popular schemes include:
- PwC Black Talent in Business Programme
- UoP IBM Career Mentoring Scheme
- University of Portsmouth Students’ Union PGM Ambassadors
- Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship
Specifically interested in management consulting?
This area of work is increasingly popular amongst graduates, making it competitive to get into. Aside from strong academic credentials, you will need to sell, sell, sell yourself and your skills if you are to secure a place on a management consulting graduate scheme. This means that gaining experience in this area will be essential.
Find out more information about management consulting internship and placement opportunities at the following links:
Speculative applications involve sending a CV and cover letter to an employer to ask if they can offer any work experience, even if the company is not currently advertising placements or internships.
Submitting a speculative application shows your interest in a specific company and your willingness to go above and beyond to develop your skills and understanding of the industry.
Tips for success when looking for experience
With a wide variety of potential business and management-related opportunities, the first challenge may be to narrow down your search and identify the options that best fit with your career goals. You may already have a clear idea of the type of organisation and position you would like to apply to, but if not, here are some key considerations to help you in your search:
- Deciding on the industry - the nature of business and management means that there’s huge scope in terms of the industry you could work in. Ask yourself - what industries are you most interested in? What companies or organisations are the key players in these industries? Are there any interesting niche or smaller companies in the field?
- Deciding on the function area or specialism - it will be important to consider what function or department you are most interested in, for instance, logistics, strategy or marketing? What industries or particular organisations are likely to offer you useful insights into these areas? Which companies offer experience in the departments you are interested in?
- Diversifying your search - if you are unable to secure experience in your preferred area of interest, you may need to consider widening your search to areas where you may still gain skills that are sought after in your target industry and role.
Utilise your personal networks to find out if anyone you already know in the business world can offer a work experience opportunity. When you are studying at university your network also extends to your tutors and other members of Faculty staff who may be researching in the areas that interest you. They may have opportunities or contacts that they are willing to share with you.
Use your initiative and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively - send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.
Once you have secured your work experience, it will be important to recognise that you will be working in a professional environment - your appearance and attitude will need to reflect this. Importantly, let your enthusiasm for the opportunity shine through and aim to get involved - a positive, ‘can do’ attitude will help you stand out.
Below are some ideas on how to impress the organisation whilst on your internship or placement:
- Maximise the variety of different experiences you will get whilst you’re there. Be sociable and get to know the different people within the organisation. Don’t be afraid to volunteer for more work if you see something that needs to be done and you’ve got time.
- Ask for feedback on your performance from an early stage. This will help you to identify any gaps in your skills-set and enable you to develop these whilst with the company.
- Recruiters will look for interns who can work as part of a team and get along with their colleagues - offer your support and assistance with tasks where you can.
- Utilise the opportunity to network — the experience will provide a great way to build your professional network. Before you start your work experience, be prepared - savvy networkers know who they are going to meet, so carry out some initial research on the organisation’s website.
- Use the professional networking site LinkedIn to connect with your co-workers, enabling you to stay in touch after your work experience has ended. The contacts you make can be a valuable resource when you are looking to source further experience or a job opportunity in the future.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make suggestions; take an active interest in the company and the sector to enable you to develop commercial awareness. This will involve you developing an understanding of what makes the organisation successful in the sector/market. Graduate employers are increasingly looking for this as a key attribute during the recruitment process.
Don’t forget that before your work experience opportunity comes to an end, you may want to do the following:
- Ask if the organisation/your manager will write you a reference to use for future applications.
- Ensure you have the contact details of colleagues who may act as mentors, sources of advice or may even help with finding employment opportunities in the future.
- Ask for feedback on your performance – this may include seeking your manager’s or colleagues’ perspective on what you need to do to further enhance your employability in order to be successful in your chosen area of work.
Make sure you have clearly identified what you have gained from the work experience in terms of skills, experience and personal development. You could complete our Key Skills Audit to help you think about the different skill sets you have developed, for example, when you have worked with others, problem solving skills and work ready skills.