How to save your CV by the end of summer

There’s still time


Back in January you told yourself that you’d get round to applying for summer internships, but that never happened, and you’ll be back at uni in a month. Before you know it, you’ll be applying for grad jobs.

That’s when you start to panic, because you’ll realise that no amount of artistic license can fill the void that is your empty CV.

Sound familiar? We have you covered. We’ve compiled a definitive guide to getting valuable experience by the end of summer, with advice from top employers and graduate recruitment experts on the steps you need to take to land prestigious grad jobs.

You’re welcome.

If you have a world-beating CV, only apply for the best opportunities

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Nepotism – use it

Now don’t get on your high horse.

You might be reluctant to lower yourself, but graduate recruiters recommend using every connection you’ve got.

Dan Hawes, Marketing Director of Graduate Recruitment Bureau, argues: ‘If your parents have a company, take full advantage of that, and if they can get you any work experience, grab the chance.’

Top employers care more about the skills you’ve learned than the way you’ve acquired them, so ask around.

Even if you’re a student, you still have a professional network – squeeze your friends’ parents and your parents’ friends for all they’re worth.

Look for work in a charity office

Take advantage of their good nature – find every charity with an office in your area and email them to ask if you can help out, or at least shadow their employees for the week. If you don’t hear back soon, call them. Just a few days in their office will boost your CV, so be pushy.

We spoke to William, a 22-year-old Durham grad who had no work experience this time last year, when his final year was about to start.

‘I didn’t have much on my CV last summer, I was bricking it. I sent speculative messages to every office in the area, left voicemails everywhere I could, and eventually I heard back from a leading charity. Within a week I was working in their office on finance projects and supporting documents, I got thrown in the deep end. The experience massively helped me land the consultancy job I’m now doing at a major London firm.

You’ve got to be a bit ballsy when it comes to forcing your way into these places – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.’

If you have a world-beating CV, only apply for the best opportunities

Sign up now for the most sought-after graduate jobs at Times Top 100 Employers

Volunteer for a local charity

Helping out at a homeless shelter is a productive use of your time, but only as long as you get the right experience from it.

Your future employers won’t get a warm fuzzy feeling just because you’re a do-gooder. Take on as much organisational responsibility as you can to develop personal skills from the experience – it’s important to show you’ve grown your ability to time manage, organise and lead in a team.

Try to get work experience at your local council

This will seem pretty rogue, but council offices are usually stretched for time and money, so you stand a better chance of getting a foot in the door here than at private companies.

They won’t want to take on extra admin – emailing them is a waste of time.

Go to their office in person, and ask at the front desk to speak to someone in HR – then ask them if there’s any department which could use an extra pair of hands on deck. It might be worth bringing a CV with you to reassure them that you are who you say you are, just  in case they suspect you’re a fraudster/raiding vandal from a rival council. If they say they don’t have any space, suggest shadowing a staff member for a week.

Be enterprising

Employers rate innovation. If you have a bright idea, now’s the time to bring out your inner Zuckerberg.

You might want to build a business plan, start a blog, or set up a social network which takes over the world. Entrepreneurial spirit always goes down well, as long as you can prove that it went somewhere.

Work towards having an end product which is substantial enough to confidently show to an interviewer in case you were asked about it.

If you have a world-beating CV, only apply for the best opportunities

Sign up now for the most sought-after graduate jobs at Times Top 100 Employers

Start working on your role in a society

Think about this: by working on a spending plan for your hockey team’s Wednesday booze ups, you can legitimately say you picked up skills which could get you hired. Seriously.

Don’t take our word for it – we asked Oliver Gadney, a spokesman for investment bank UBS, why organising for a society is a good use of your last month of summer:

‘Taking on roles of responsibility in societies or sports teams is a great way to acquire experience for your CV. Demonstrating dedication and commitment, combined with practical elements such as time-management, decision-making and budgeting whilst working on a society project all make for a summer well spent.’



Holidays are there for a reason – even the most demanding employers in finance, consultancy or law know that. When you’ve just spent months in a hellish air-conditioned library/prison, you need downtime to regain your sanity.

That said, if you’re going abroad, it’s worth taking a few days to do something which might earn you brownie points on the CV.

Sammie Stapleton, PwC’s Head of Talent, makes the point that doing something useful abroad shouldn’t be a chore:

“Do something you enjoy that could give you some new life skills. Take opportunities to learn new things – teaching English as a foreign language, volunteering at a local school, immersing yourself in different cultures or even just managing your budget while backpacking can all add to your CV.”

So there are two motivations for not going broke on holiday: avoiding the awkward ‘bail out’ phone call with your parents, and adding a new line to your CV. Who knew?

If you have a world-beating CV, only apply for the best opportunities

Sign up now for the most sought-after graduate jobs at Times Top 100 Employers