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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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Referees/references. - April 15th 2014, 11:22 AM

I'm heading into the tail end of an undergraduate degree, and having decided I don't want to do further study at the present time I've been looking at my options. There's one persistent problem I keep coming up against no matter which route I look at: I have no job experience, and therefore no referees, and a very bare resume.

When I was in high school I wasn't allowed to have a part-time job, and due to a scholarship I haven't needed to get one while studying at Uni. So I have absolutely no workplace experience, which automatically reflects badly.

I have done a bit of volunteer work in the past, but nothing recently. I haven't stayed in touch with any high school teachers, my Uni is big enough that none of my tutors know who I am, and I haven't worked with anyone in a professional capacity.

Don't get me wrong, I've tried to get involved in things. Thus far I haven't found any internships that wouldn't drive me insane, I haven't been able to find a volunteering position that fits in with my schedule, and any societies on campus I've tried to be a part of have seemed to fizzle out, leaving me with pretty much nothing.

And now I'm finding that any job or even volunteering position I come across needs a couple of referees, if not references. And I have absolutely no one, which is frustrating because I know I would be able to handle the position, I just don't have anyone to vouch for me.

Another problem is that I live on campus during semester, and a lot of volunteering positions I've looked at require at least a six-month commitment. But I'm only on campus for maybe six weeks at a time, and then I'm home during the breaks. Which means that I can't guarantee I would be able to make a weekly or even fortnightly commitment for that length of time, either at home or near the Uni.

So how can I go about getting involved in some positions or roles that would get me some experience and maybe someone willing to give me a reference? This is all a little depressing and I'm starting to think I'll never find something, so any advice/reassurance/suggestions would be welcome.


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Re: Referees/references. - April 15th 2014, 11:29 AM

Hey there

I dont thing that its a major problem for not having a bob experience.You complete your graduation with pretty good grades,then surely great companies would like to appoint you.Or if you have time,you can keep trying again.Dont worry
   
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Re: Referees/references. - April 15th 2014, 03:31 PM

Hey, Chess!

The curse of the bare résumé strikes once more. Happens to the best of us, especially with the "need experience to get a job, need a job to get experience" catch-22.

While living between uni and home makes it awkward, I wouldn't be surprised if you could find an organisation who would take you on for, say, six weeks, while you're on campus. Could volunteering on weekends or evenings of weekdays suit you in terms of your schedule? A lot of charitable organisations need people to simply hand out leaflets or collect money for an hour or two a week, and they tend to really appreciate any help.

I know you've tried societies at uni, but is there anything else that is offered? Groups like Red Cross/Red Crescent are always looking for volunteers, and you might get a first aid qualification from it, which looks awesome on one's résumé.

The one thing I will say, even if it sounds like you are doing just this, is to literally try everywhere you find. Newer, lesser-known organisations will be willing to take on pretty much anyone they can get, and I'm sure someone there will act as a referee because your help would be valued.

Hope this helped somewhat, and best of luck!
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Re: Referees/references. - April 15th 2014, 04:23 PM

How much time do you have left in university? For recent graduates, academic references are very important; perhaps more so than professional references. I would reach out to professors. Have you received exceptionally high grades in any class? Reach out to that professor. I would spend time getting to know that professor before asking him/her to be a reference, or else he/she will have nothing to say other than "yes, she did well in my class, but I do not know her personally."

Getting involved is one of the most important things you can do. Have you had any summer jobs? I know that you're on a scholarship, which doesn't require you to work during the school year. I can relate to this. However, what did you do during the summer? Even volunteer references can go a long way.

Moving forward, it's best to start getting involved in things that you're passionate about, or else it'll be difficult for you to commit. It's best to stick to one or two things, versus the opposite of joining a bunch of different things with minimal involvement. All you need is a couple of solid contacts, but you need to put in the time and effort in order to secure these people. I urge you, though, to avoid getting involved for the sole purpose of gaining referees. People will see right through this and it'll reflect negatively on you.

As for right now, do your best with the experience that you have. Reach out to the two or three people who have the most experience with you, and go from there. This type of thing can't happen over night, so you just have to be patient. Continue to get involved in things that you're passionate about. Can you stay at university during your breaks (at least one break) so that you can get some additional experience? You're probably in the UK - right? The breaks are weird there; I went on exchange last year. At the end of the day, remember that every student is in your same situation - all of you have to deal with the same type of breaks. So, make the best of it. That's all you can really do at this time.

My strongest advice is to avoid forcing these types of relationships. People will see through this, and it'll turn them off. Alternatively, it's better to have a referee who doesn't know you as well as another, but the relationship wasn't forced. Does this make sense?

Good luck.


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Re: Referees/references. - April 15th 2014, 05:00 PM

I think you're forgetting one important referee you potentially have.
   
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Re: Referees/references. - April 15th 2014, 05:52 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob View Post
I think you're forgetting one important referee you potentially have.
I was going to suggest this.


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Re: Referees/references. - April 25th 2014, 01:23 PM

Thank you very much for the responses, everyone!

Ibrahim - unfortunately referees are a must, because a) every application I've looked at has specifically mentioned them, and b) my grades alone aren't enough to get me any position anywhere.

Gareth - the problem is that I finish fairly late most days, so not much time for anything after that. Weekends also aren't really an option because I have family commitments or plans with friends a fair bit, which means I can't commit to regular weekend shifts unfortunately. Fun fact: I have a first aid certificate, and have also done a mental health first aid course, so I've already got that on my resume at least. I'll have a look into groups on campus or nearby, but so far I haven't had much luck with those either.

SpecterH - I haven't had any summer jobs or anything like that. I could potentially stay on campus during breaks, but I would prefer not to because honestly I get homesick after a while and just need to sleep in my own bed and pat my cats. But if I can find something near the campus, I can always go back during breaks sometimes I suppose, since it's only a couple of hours away. I've been looking into things I'm passionate about, but the problem I keep running into is that I rely on public transport, which makes getting to a lot of places kind of difficult. I'm definitely not interested just for the sake of a reference, it's just that that's the thing I'm most worried about. I also really want to get involved in something I'm passionate about, but I'm having trouble finding anything that's close to me and fits in with my schedule. Quite a few of the places I've looked at require you to be able to commit one or two weekday shifts every week, which is just not something I can do at this time. And in answer to your first couple of points, no, I haven't received brilliant grades in any classes so far, so I'm not sure I would stand out enough for a lecturer to be interested. Also, for info, I finish my degree at the end of the year, and no, I'm not in the UK.

Rob - thank you for that, I may have to get in touch with you sometime.

Thanks again, everyone. I know my responses may seem rather abrupt, and I promise I'm not trying to shut you down. You've all given me some things to think about and I've started looking into it more seriously, so your words are definitely appreciated.


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Re: Referees/references. - April 25th 2014, 04:03 PM

Hey Chess, I know I'm late on this - sorry!

I just wanted to say, that when I first started looking for work I had no references either. I literally used my Girl Guide leader (because we used to live in the same street, she'd known me since I was in nappies) and my local Priest.
At the moment I'm using my current employer, but seeing as my last workplace was so bad, and they go through staff so often, they don't remember me. So I'm using my mum's close friend/boss. It's difficult for students with no work experience to get a reference so it can be acceptable to have a professional you haven't worked with give you a reference. If you have a family friend, for example, who maybe you've helped out with something on occasion, they can be a reference. If you don't have this, find someone who could be good and see if you can volunteer for them.
Like Rob's said, you already have one stunning reference there considering all you do for TH, and most places only want two. Have a look around and see what you can do.

Have a look at this site: https://govolunteer.com.au/
It makes it much easier to find places to volunteer in that you'd enjoy doing instead of being miserable for six weeks or whatever just to get a reference. It's worth a try. If worst comes to worst, email your fanfics to whoever they're about and they can give you a reference on your dedication and imagination.

I hope that made sense.


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Re: Referees/references. - April 25th 2014, 05:52 PM

With regards to your professors, you don't necessarily need brilliant grades in their classes in order to use them as a reference. For instance, one of my references in second year was from a professor whose class I 1) hated 2) received my lowest mark in. We just got along, personally, and that enabled him to be an exception reference for me. You could even reach out to TAs/tutors/whatever they're called where you go to school. These people are typically much more laid back than professors, but could be exceptional references as well.

I get the whole transportation issue. Public transit sucks; and I'm currently facing a similar dilemma with my summer internship. If you can get to your campus on breaks sometimes, it would probably help. But, maybe it would be easier to find something where you live. Do you plan on moving home once your degree is finished? Maybe you can start looking around there, and have something set up for you once you return home.

I know it'll be a bit discouraging - especially when searching for your first job. It seems like they want someone experience and, yet, that's the whole reason you're looking to work there - to gain experience. It's very circular. When it comes to references, I know that's also very stressful. As students, we're extremely busy, and have a ton of things on our plates. Personally, I wanted to get involved with a variety of things in university, which left me involved moderately in everything - which is not a fantastic way to get references. So, I can empathize.

The references I have used in the past have been mainly professors. But, you can use almost anyone - some places even allow personal references, so you may want to look into that as well. Plus, chances are, the workplace won't even contact the referee. But, I wouldn't bank on that, haha. Ultimately, find a couple of people - who don't necessarily need to be super close to you - but can vouch for the type of person you are and the type of work habits that you exhibit.


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Re: Referees/references. - April 25th 2014, 08:15 PM

I found getting summer jobs that don't require experience but only a will to work can help with resumes also volunteering. It sucks because you'll probably need a decent job for when you get out, which is why volunteering at this point (if you haven't already) may be a problem. Perhaps (the treacherous creatures called) internships?
   
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