How To Include Your Part Time Job in Your University Personal Statement
January 31 2020 , 0 Comments
When including work experience in your personal statement, it’s important to focus on the skills you’ve developed and how you now have a greater understanding of your chosen course — regardless of if you’ve worked in Pizza Express or at the BBC.
If you’re applying for university. it’s more likely that you’ll have had experience working at in Tesco than a work experience placement at The Sunday Times, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discuss your part-time job in your personal statement.
It doesn’t matter if the job isn’t directly related to your chosen course, admissions tutors want to hear about the transferrable skills you’ve gained, what you’ve learnt, and how that makes you the right student for the course.
How to Begin
It can be difficult to imagine how on earth a part-time job waitressing relates to a career in graphic design, but both require many similar skills such as attention to detail.
Before you begin writing, make a list of all the skills needed to succeed in your chosen course/career. For example, analytical skills are required for a data science degree. If you can’t think of any you can find the required skills listed in job postings and on the university’s websites.
Once you have done this make a list of the part-time jobs you’ve had and the most important tasks you completed. Make notes on any responsibilities or achievements accomplished in the role. From there consider what you learnt from the tasks and what skills you gained. This will provide you with all the information you need to write your paragraph.
Quality over Quantity
You only have 4000 characters for your entire personal statement, so try to be as concise as possible when discussing your experience — quality trumps quantity every time.
When writing out your paragraph, be sure to avoid simply listing all of your previous jobs and name-dropping companies as lists — without context, this is a pet hate of admissions tutors. Instead, think about your responsibilities and tasks. It doesn’t matter how prestigious your job was and how many different jobs you’ve had if you didn’t actually learn anything from them.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience at a top firm, universities just want to see that you understand the work and are interested in it.
Only put the most relevant work experience in your personal statement. You have an opportunity to write about all of your previous work experience in the work experience section of the UCAS application.
What Relevant Skills Have You Developed?
When discussing your work experience, you need to consider how the skills you’ve gained relate to your chosen degree/career. For example, for degrees in Business and jobs in Sales, communication skills are extremely important. In this situation, you could mention working in a customer-facing retail role, as it allows you to develop strong communication skills by interacting with difficult customers.
Did you have any Responsibilities?
Thousands of applicants will have worked in similar roles to you. A great way to stand out is to discuss any responsibilities you had at work. Were you in charge of a specific task? Do you manage people? Did you win any work-related incentives? Think about how these responsibilities relate to your chosen course. If you work at a café as a barista and oversee ordering supplies you can demonstrate to admissions tutors how you have skills in speed and efficiency (from preparing drinks orders during busy periods) and organisation and attention to detail (from having the responsibility of monitoring stock levels and ordering new stock when needed).
It’s often useful to test your sentences to make sure they’re developed and demonstrate the skills you’ve learnt and how they make you the perfect candidate, a way to do this is asking ‘So What?’.
Student - I have a part-time job working at my local cinema on the weekend selling tickets and cleaning screens.
Admissions Tutor – So What?
Student – I’ve been able to balance my studies with my job and work in a team in a busy environment.
Admissions Tutor - So What?
Student – Balancing my studies has helped me to develop my time management skills. Working with teammates to quickly serve customers during busy periods has strengthened my ability to work well under pressure and my team working skills.
Admissions Tutor – So What?
Student – Strong time management and team working skills along with the ability to work well under pressure are necessary for a career in events management.
So there, you’ve gone from ‘I have a part-time job working at my local cinema on the weekend’ to thinking about your responsibilities and skills, relating them to your chosen degree.
The So What? Test can be applied to all aspects of your personal statement.
Exaggerating in your personal statement will come back to haunt you. Universities use personal statements to form the questions for admissions interviews. There’s no use saying that you helped manage a team of 10 when you when you didn’t have any formal responsibility — there’s a big difference and admission tutors will look unfavourably on you. If you are invited to an interview be prepared to talk about every aspect of your personal statement.
When reading your personal statement admissions tutors are only looking to see that you fully understand the skills and qualities needed to be successful at your chosen course. Everything in your personal statement should help decide why you deserve a place over other applicants.
Clarissa Ducie is a graduate from the University of Leeds and now works for UK University Search running large scale higher education events for over 45,000 students a year at stadiums and universities around the UK.