UCL News


How to spice up your CV: advice from a final year student

27 April 2017

With third term of the academic year already upon us, you are more than likely focused on exams right now.

Join a society: turn your love for Harry Potter into a marketable skill But at the back of your mind, I would guess that securing a job or an internship is a pretty big priority for you too.

If your CV is feeling a little light, particularly if you are in your second year, it's never too late to take advantage of some of the opportunities at UCL to spice it up a little. Academia is great, but you'll need some extra skills and experience to stand out to employers.

I've pulled together some ideas from my own experiences at UCL to help get you started.

1. Join a society: turn your love for Harry Potter into a marketable skill

Chances are you're already part of some society. If not, get on it! It's another good way to build skills and experience and who knows, maybe you'll make some friends.There are more than 250 UCLU clubs and societies to choose from.

Interested in writing? Join Pi. Want to work in film? Try Film Soc. A committee position is especially good because it gives you a chance to show how responsible you are.

And don't worry if your society seems a little niche - it's a good way to stand out, and any interviewer will be interested in someone who was the treasurer for the Harry Potter Society.

2. Volunteer: it's good for your soul and your CV

Volunteer it's good for the soul and your CV

It's good for your soul and great for your CV. UCLU Volunteering Services Unit (VSU) run a pretty exemplary service with a directory of over 500 opportunities for altruistic students like yourself.

Want to work with kids? Try First Story, a charity which runs creative writing workshops for London schools. Want to work in museums? UCL has three, and they're always on the lookout for new talent. Want to lead your own project? There's plenty of scope for that too.

Volunteering is a great way to get that experience employers to see on your CV. It's also pretty fulfilling.

3. Secure work experience: using a bit of chutzpah

Secure work experience using a bit of chutzpah

What you don't need to get work experience: a parent in the city. What you do need: a bit of chutzpah. Work experience is excellent if you can get it, so put in the effort.

Take a look at the sectors you'd like to work for. Find companies. Get in touch with their HR people - an email will do. See if they have a work experience programme. Even if they don't, see if they'll have you in for a week.

If it's not a huge company, see if you can get in touch with a head of department - take them out for a coffee, let them get to know you for half an hour, then ask - it's very few people who'd say no.

UCL itself is a great place for work experience - I'm writing this during my work experience with the Media Relations team. Get in touch with the head of one of the teams. The worst anyone can do is say no.

4. Get advice from an expert: contact UCL Careers

Now you've earned your experience, how do you translate it into CV-speak? Head down to the UCL Careers office - they'll tell you how to show that being treasurer for the Harry Potter Society gave you skills in finance, teamwork and communication.

They can also give you some interview training, which is pretty essential (it's really, really hard to come up with a time you 'overcame a significant difficulty' on the spot).

John is a final year Classical Archaeology and Classical Civilization (BA) student.

John Bilton, UCL Media Relations intern