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Internships and volunteering help graduate job-hunters stand out from the crowd, says Vodafone HRD

When it comes to finding a job, work experience is a graduate's most valuable asset, according to Vodafone's UK HR director, Matthew Brearley.

According to a survey carried out by the Vodafone UK Graduate Programme, 69% of graduates said they have undertaken an internship to boost their success in job applications, and a further 34% are using volunteering to enhance their chances of finding work.

The report comes as thousands of final-year students all over the UK graduate, with a degree but no guarantee of a job. Almost a third (31%) of university leavers confess they are concerned they will not get a job they want in the next six months. Just under half (45%) say the huge growth in the number of graduates all job hunting is the main barrier to getting started on their career.

The choice of university degree is highly influential in a student’s view of their future career prospects – 20% of those studying engineering and arts subjects say they are very optimistic about securing work after graduation, while 42% of those studying degrees such as law and business remain gloomy about life after university, believing studying a more vocational course would have made a significant difference to their job prospects.

Commenting on the findings, Brearley said: "When it comes to marketing products in a very competitive consumer market, differentiation is key. The same is true for graduates in a tough employment market. There are plenty of bright and capable graduates out there, but they need to stand out and it's often attitude and experiences that really count. Graduates who can show they have 'the X factor' through previous volunteering or work experiences have a definite advantage.

"Internships are not a guarantee of a better candidate, but they are a good thing to have done. Graduates with some real experience of the workplace tend to have good judgment and are realistic about the world of work; they have also typically demonstrated drive and commitment.

"From our own experience at Vodafone we are always looking for grads who are bright, web savvy, positive and have that spark of energy."