Whether it’s Enrichment, Activities or Careers week, find out how to get the most from this annual opportunity and add something meaningful and relevant to your CV and personal statement.

What are we talking about?

If you are transitioning between years – perhaps between Year 12 and 13 – your school or college will most likely have at least one careers activity planned for you in the next week or so. Whilst those in other years – perhaps lower down the school – may have enrichment opportunities and trips abroad.

There’ll be a member of staff who will have been working all year on arranging these events and additional staff appointed to lead the groups taking part. Some of you will see these as long-awaited fun and positive experiences: others will regard them as perhaps more educational – depending on the theme. But no matter what the event, we guarantee that you can go home after any and every experience able to document at least something of relevance to your CV. Here’s how …

What have you signed up for?

The fun stuff – If you chose a series of workshops because they included a trip to a theme park, for example, reflect back on why you were told the trip was relevant. In addition to the three days of talks before the trip, is there an activity on your day at the theme park which you can capture on your CV? Will you be building high tech robots or constructing skyscrapers? Will there be a prominent scientist or engineer attending who might inspire you? If in doubt, ask the person leading the trip for their thoughts.

The seriously fun stuff – And on the last day of the week, when you elected to go paintballing with your friends, you may be wondering how this could be relevant to your CV, but what about the teamwork skills, the leadership opportunities, the logistical organisation as you managed the dwindling supply of ammunition. Was anyone injured that you needed to get safely out of the warzone? Just as in daily life and weekly sports, there will be plenty to capture from being thrown into a challenge in an event like this.

The chance to earn more money – And if the week allows one or more days for work experience, you may be able to increase your hours in a part-time job on those days. This is an opportunity to earn more cash but remember to step back and reflect on what else you get from your job.

Employability skills are transferable and can include being punctual and suitably dressed for the job, having great customer service skills through working with the public, and perhaps proven success in sales, depending on the role.

Example – If you work in a charity shop, you might also have good organisational skills through helping at the back of shop sorting the items handed in during the week. And if you are allowed on the till or given a set of keys to the shop, then you will also be able to demonstrate that you are considered by the manager to be responsible and worthy of being allowed front-of-house as well. All these skills transfer well to other roles and will add value to your CV.

The chance to get work experience – This is often simply about experience of the workplace, but ideally in something relevant to the career that you are thinking about. The money becomes less important as there are part-time jobs to fill that gap (see above) and it is more important to get something to help with future applications and interviews. Inevitably you will gain employability skills from the experience, but significantly also technical skills and relevant experience with a relevant organisation to add to your CV.

The irrelevant careers stuff – So then there’s the day on careers. Some or all of it might be covering apprenticeships when you just want to go to Uni – or it might be about higher education when you just want to find an apprenticeship. However, we urge you to listen to what is being said, ask questions and take a genuine interest in what is being covered.

Even if you do not plan to pursue the options being presented, your complete understanding of them will help cement your ideas on what it is that you actually do want to do. And in your personal statement you may then want to reflect on the experiences which influenced your decision to apply for Uni. An interviewer will be looking for evidence of your commitment and of your understanding, so this will provide you with an example to help.

The relevant careers stuff – And then there’s the careers lessons and, hopefully, careers days when you will hear invaluable content that will be vital in helping you with your next step. It could be a discussion with a Uni of interest at a careers fair stand, or a talk by Careersnearhere or by a major employer offering apprenticeships. This is easier to capture for your CV as it is evidence to support what you are already looking for. The skill is to then seize as many of these opportunities as you can.

Finding the relevant experiences

It’s quite common for there to be a careers fair – no matter how small – in the enrichment activities at this time of year – and tempting to simply pick up the free leaflets, sweets, pens and bags as you bounce around the display stands like a pinball machine. However, what you come away with may be physically tangible, but how relevant will those things be to your CV?

Instead use this opportunity to target key Unis and/or employers that you especially want to speak to. If you want to study at a particular Uni, for example, go and talk to the staff on their display stand: they can answer your questions almost as well as on an open day and give you a useful insight and some handy tips before you apply. This will be helpful for your personal statement as well as at interview.

And finally, …

Don’t let any opportunity pass unnoticed. Almost everything in school or college presents an opportunity to help you to take the next step – especially at this time of year.

The trick is to spot that opportunity and act on it, recognising how something no matter how trivial can add value to your CV and personal statement. Capture the relevance out of the seemingly insignificant and turn it to your advantage.

Careersnearhere: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started!

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