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7 Tips to Maximise your Work Experience in a Downturn

7 Tips to Maximise your Work Experience in a Downturn

September 14, 2020

By Jenifer Jehan (Work Integrated Learning Facilitator at ICMS)

At the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS) we believe that the best learning experience combines practical ‘real-world’ work experience with a strong academic foundation. That’s why we make sure that all our degrees include that vital work experience in the form of industry training subjects in which students undertake training with an industry partner (also known as work experience, professional placement or internship). The past few months have been challenging for the Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) department who are tasked with matching and placing students in their work placements with our network of over 1000 industry partners.

Luckily our WIL team loves a challenge!

Historically the WIL department has been able to help multiple students find roles in the same company, in more recent times this has changed for us. We are now finding that companies may only take on one or two interns whereas in the past they have been able to accommodate up to 10 students at once. Some of our partner companies have hiring freezes at present, meaning that they are not a position to take on any new staff – even interns.

However, things are starting to improve and lately we have been pleasantly surprised by the number of new requests from companies for interns or volunteers. As more and more companies start to come back to life, here are some of our tips for students looking to get work experience and make sure they are in the best possible position to be able to apply for roles:

  1. Set goals

This doesn’t just have to be for your career, but it’s a good place to start. Think about where you want to be and who you want to be working for in one year / three years / 10 years from now. Write down your goals or make a vision board if you want to get creative. Richard Branson recommends sharing your goals with others and holding each other accountable. At the very least, write them down and stick them on your wall.

  1. Smarten up your resume

Take a look at your resume. Does it make you proud? Would you hire yourself just by looking at this document? If the answer is no then it’s time to do some work! There are many resources online which will give you tips on how to create an outstanding resume. Think also about the content of your resume and whether you feel you have a good level of experience and skill. Are there any short courses you can take (outside of your normal studies) to help gain further skills to make you more employable?

  1. It’s (sometimes) not what you know…

Fairly often it can be who you know. Do you have a profile on LinkedIn? If not, then you really should. Check out this recent blog post by one of our industry partners from digital marketing agency Eloquent to help get you started: Reach out to your personal network, particularly if you know someone who works for a company that you would like to eventually work for. Get some career advice from friends and family and then put it into action.

  1. Practice your interview skills

At ICMS each student has the opportunity to have a mock interview with one of our team, which will help them prepare for a real-life interview for a job or internship. Before you go for an interview (whether it be virtual or face-to-face) it is important to think about the type of questions which may be asked. There are some standard questions which many interviewers will ask. Take a while to search online and think about your top skills – why are you the best person for the role and how can you sell yourself?

  1. Think long-term

There may possibly be only unpaid (part-time) internships on offer at tough times. That shouldn’t be a surprise with the way the economy has suffered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Think about your internship being an investment in your future career. It is a relatively short period of time, and if you can prove yourself during your internship there is every chance that you will find yourself moving into a paid role on completion. This has happened to at least two students I know in the past month.

  1. Be open to all opportunities

On paper, a role may not seem like your dream job. Often this can be a stepping stone to another role. Is it a small company? If so, great news – you often have access to be able to cross-train in other areas of the business. If it is a larger company then they may be able to grant you access to training materials to grow your skills. The culture of a company will make a role more enjoyable than the title on the job description, so try to find out as much as you can about the company culture before you even apply and see if you feel the culture is a good fit for you personally.

  1. Build your network

Are there any volunteer roles you can take on at this time? Take a look at There is a tab to be able to select online and remote opportunities, so even if we are still needing to remain socially distanced maybe there is a role you can take on from the comfort of your home.


Please contact the Work-Integrated Team team through [email protected] if you have any questions. We are always happy to help.


Industry Training, News