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Career Options in Health & Social Care: Student

Ahh, the glory years spent as an undergraduate where being healthy means being able to go out for the fifth consecutive night despite living with a perpetual hangover and social care means lending your flatmate a tins of beans because otherwise their dinner would consist solely of toast.

Despite the daily student struggle, some of you see yourselves as top professionals in the health and social care sector upon graduation. But what can you do during your undergraduate degree to give you the best possible chance of securing your dream job when the time to wave goodbye to university.

Opportunities available to undergraduates

- Volunteering

- Work experience/internships

- Placement

Nothing shouts ‘I really want to work in health and social care and I’m really good at it’ more than having loads of relevant volunteering experience under your belt. For any health or social care career, one way to get volunteer work is by helping out with the folks at the SOS bus. For those who may not know what the SOS bus is, it’s a big yellow bus set up in city centres on Friday and Saturday nights that provide immediate assistance to those who might have had a sip too much to drink. Being able to say that you helped out here will look a lot better on the ol’ CV than simply saying in an interview that you held a friends hair back as they threw up at the side of a street. St Johns Ambulance is another great organisation to volunteer for.

Work experience and internships are another option for undergraduates looking to get into the health and social care industry. The NHS recommends that budding health professionals try to secure some time shadowing a doctor, dentist or nurse, allowing you to see what a day in the life of a health professional is really like. You also may be lucky enough to land some paid work experience as a healthcare assistance or typing up GP notes. It may not be what you want to do with your career but every little helps. If you’re wanting to break into pharmacy, you could apply to the big pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline or even working behind a pharmacy counter is worthy experience.

Placement is usually part of any health and social care degree related course and should be used to build up your experience in the workplace and extending your network of contacts. You never know, one of your contacts could come back with a job opportunity following graduation.

Deadlines to consider

Juggling coursework deadlines with applying for internships and volunteering commitments can be tough but it’s all great time management experience. If a company has a dedicated internship programme, this will have a deadline so make sure to keep checking back. If you want to get some work experience shadowing, it’s best to extend the feelers early so that the doctor, dentist or nurse have plenty of time to response and provide you with a few possible date ranges.