Planning a Strategy
Be in Control
Whatever Strategy you adopt it is really important to keep track and manage your contacts and communications with organisations. You can use the Grid tool provided in the links to the right of the page.
Many students choose the Cambridge course because it allows them to defer making specific career choices until the third year. By nature, our students are either less decisive or, alternatively, prefer to give these matters more consideration before limiting their choices. Given the changeable nature of the economy and increased flexibility required within jobs, our students can be at an advantage. However, when it comes to applying for industrial experience the sheer number and range of comapnies can be a bewildering prospect. However students need to start whittling down the huge number of potential organisations to a manageable number.
Most students prefer to be near their home for convenience and cost purposes, however a small number every year prefer to be away from home. The most common location is Cambridge, due to the ease of obtaining accommodation and local company links with the department. In general, companies will prefer students who reside near them, as they surmise that there will be few accommodation problems.
Size of Company
There are advantages to working with larger companies. They tend to offer more placements and they have a wider range of opportunities. Conversely they attract a huge number of applicants. Some of them tend to establish links with specialist courses and have rigid, inflexible recruitment policies for student placements, e.g. restricting the opportunities to third years only. Smaller companies can often offer a more interesting experience to the first year students as their size allows you to gain familiarity with the workforce more quickly, you will be involved in a greater range of activities and, most importantly, you can often negotiate directly with key people rather than via the administrative structures that large companies often operate.
You may decide to target a certain sector, such as aerospace or automative, which are usually the most popular choices, but they do not always offer the greatest number of opportunities for vacation work. You may decide on a sector because you think it will be your eventual career choice. On the other hand, you would be well advised to check the economic buoyancy of a sector and this may well be a better indicator regarding the possibility of finding work. Newspapers like the Financial Times and the business section of the broadsheets provide up-to-date information on sectors as well as about individual companies.
Newspapers can be accessed via the web.
Type of Work
Some students may wish to gain experience of practical work as this forms a very limited part of the course at CUED. Learning to operate machines, making things and maintaining them are all useful ways of acquiring skills and understanding how the design, manufacture and durability of products inter-relate. Working on the shop-floor or in a workshop, you may gain a very useful fly-on-the-wall appreciation of the workforce's attitudes towards management, which you are unlikely to obtain when you become part of the latter.
Want to know more?
Jobsearch Strategies: A list of really useful tips for any Job Search. The advice is aimed at Christmas jobs but the tips are useful for temporary jobs at any time of the year.