Guardian Careers feat. Inspiring Interns: CV boost with volunteering & internships

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Using a gap year to increase your graduate job prospects.

Taking a year off to travel isn’t a bad thing. Embarking on a three or six month adventure and spending the next few months working in retail or hospitality to pay it off won’t look bad on your CV either. If your time and activities are documented and dated correctly, with no gaps or gaps explained e.g. you were climbing Kilimanjaro, your CV could still smash it.

A live Q&A with Guardian Careers expert panelists today revealed top tips and key careers advice for those with volunteering experience looking to launch their careers, but unsure how to document their story for a CV.

Top tips:

1. Engage in meaningful work experience, volunteering or internships during your time out of education and employment. Never underestimate or undersell the power that work experience and volunteering can have when applying for an internship or job.

2. Indulge in the culture of cities and make an effort to learn the language. A second language (or more!) on your CV will instantly attract the attention of a recruiter or employer.

3. Be open and honest about your experience on your CV and in interviews. Employers are OK with gap years, even if it’s just for travel.

4. Transferable skills gained during your gap year/months will help you to become a stronger, more confident person. This will enhance your ability to interview well in the future. Confidence is key!

5. If you have a career idea in mind, try and align that with the experiences you undertake during your gap year, volunteering or working.

6. Employers like graduates with good academics and experience. If your gap year includes undertaking some experience, be it to find out about careers, save money or volunteer, it speaks volumes to your work ethic and outlook on your career. If you only took the year to travel, explore and have a good time, it won’t be held against you.

7. Have a great time, try new things and savour the experience!

Panelists included Joe Hallwood, founder of TEFL.org.uk, Sophie Graham from the National Careers Service and our very own Arthur Ashman, Head of Talent Development at Inspiring Interns.

Q&A organised by Guardian Careers’ Charlotte Seagar.

Step 1. Perfect CV
Step 2. Check out our full list of graduate internships in London and apply to the roles you’re interested in.
Step 3. Be awesome in your interviews.
Step 4. Watch the job offers roll in.

Katie is Senior Marketing Executive at Inspiring Interns. A dancer, sport and health & fitness enthusiast, she likes to move, tweet and blog.

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