Work experience during college can be extremely beneficial to your CV and later career, but it’s important that you find the right role, that suits you and your abilities. You need to consider how much you can take on in addition to your studies, which should remain your priority, and also the likelihood of developing transferrable skills during your work experience.
Two of the key soft skills that graduates are found to lack, according to the gradireland Graduate Salary and Recruitment Trends Survey 2015, are communication skills and confidence. The right part-time job in college can help you develop these areas and also help set you apart from other graduates.
Gareth Reynolds, who worked as a gradireland Brand Ambassador while studying in NUI Galway, gives us an insight into his experience over the past two years.
My Time as Brand Ambassador
The typical student’s progression through the Ireland’s education system is often full of tough choices and second thoughts. From choosing your Leaving Certificate subjects and making the correct CAO decisions to getting the most from your third level experience and being ready for the next step into the world of a graduate. Being given the opportunity to work with gradireland as a Brand Ambassador not only gave me the chance to gain a great deal of invaluable work experience, but also gave me a first-hand view into how much gradireland can do for a third level student like myself, and thousands of others.
I was fortunate enough to work with gradireland as a brand ambassador in NUI Galway for two academic years between 2013 and 2015. The time I spent as an ambassador was thoroughly enjoyable and an experience which has, and will, continue to benefit me as I progress through university and my working life.
When I saw the brand ambassador role advertised I knew instantly that this was something I wanted to go for and had a feeling I would enjoy it and would have something to offer. I had been preparing to begin my second year of a three year Commerce degree and had always been keen on experiencing a communications-based, working environment while at the same time being able to maintain a level of dedication to my studies. gradireland allowed me to do just that. In becoming an ambassador for the brand I had the freedom to work whenever I wanted and could fit in my objectives around assignments and study.
The main aim of my role was to raise awareness of the brand, and in doing so, increase the number of NUI Galway students availing of gradireland’s services. The role required me to get out there and work my way around the campus, talking to anyone and everyone from all academic disciplines. Whether it is science, business, maths or language students, gradireland can help and I wanted to make that known to the NUI Galway student body.
I was far from a graduate career expert when I began, and I still wouldn’t claim to be an encyclopaedia of career advice for students! However, gradireland took myself and the other Brand Ambassadors into the Dublin office and provided me with a great deal of direction and information which I could then apply to my role going forward. In truth, I instantly enjoyed working with the gradireland team and wanted to learn as much as I could from them in order to contribute my very best in return. I was never isolated from the team and help or assistance was always there if I needed to ask questions or test the waters with promotional ideas, which was encouraged.
What have I learned?
First and foremost, the opportunity to work as an ambassador for gradireland created an endless list of future jobs and scenarios in which I could apply the experience I gained from the role. In any job today, having communication skills are key to being successful. Communication is the foundation, upon which each interpersonal interaction is built. The ambassador role allowed me to develop these skills and apply them regularly in order to improve as a person, a team member and as an employee.
Being an effective brand ambassador meant that I had to be organised and punctual at all times, something which any employer would expect! While I did have the freedom to work whatever hours suited me, it was important to also remain focused and target-driven, month-on-month. Having a monthly goal of student registrations to achieve demanded that I make the most of my time in order to meet deadlines. gradireland rewarded punctuality and organisation, which encouraged me further. Working in an environment which demanded the above skills is a fantastic positive to take from the ambassador role as, similar to communication skills, possessing organisational skills is very beneficial moving forward, whether that be in an academic or professional setting.
Writing this blog has allowed me to reflect on myself as a second year student who didn’t have a great deal of work-related experience and comparing that version of myself to the present day. Working for gradireland showed me the bigger picture in terms of what I could achieve, and gave me the confidence and skills to apply for jobs both at home and in America. It also provided me with a body of knowledge which I wouldn’t have otherwise acquired, and for that I am very grateful. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as Brand Ambassador and I look back on it as a very positive experience. I met some fantastic people, notably Sinéad Foy, the Marketing Manager, who supported my efforts throughout my employment and made me feel like I was as much a part of the gradireland team as anyone else who worked there. Sinéad’s enthusiasm for the ambassadorial role inspired me to work hard for the brand and made me realise how great an opportunity the role of Brand Ambassador really is.
gradireland Brand Ambassador 2013-2015