The career benefits of UniGrow


UniGrow is better paid than most summer internships (many of which have been cancelled this year). But, let’s be honest, it doesn’t lead seamlessly on to one of those prized “graduate” jobs in the City or the professions.


The good news is that UniGrow is still a great way to cultivate your career prospects. If you need to explain that to anyone (like your parents), just get them to read the rest of this page.


Most careers advisers recommend that students focus on developing their skills, rather than collecting placements that sound good but offer no opportunities for personal growth. We consulted several university careers services when planning UniGrow and they not only loved the idea but are actively promoting it among their students.


As for graduate recruiters, they aren’t necessarily looking for a CV stuffed with internships. Some explicitly seek evidence of varied work experience. And all will be looking for key skills and attributes that UniGrow develops.


Granted, you’ll have to think a bit about how to present UniGrow on your CV, but we’ve put together a simple three-step process to make it easier. Your university careers service may also be able to offer some structured support (like before-and-after questionnaires).




“This is a fantastic collaboration which meets the needs of both students and our country during these challenging times. As a graduate recruiter I would definitely value the skills students will gain from being part of the initiative.”

Melanie Clark

Recruitment & Development Manager – Early Careers, WSP




Money tree


Step 1. Before your placement


Before you pack your bags, it’s worth thinking about your future career direction. If you aspire to a job related to food, the environment or agriculture, UniGrow is directly relevant experience. But for most career ambitions, you’ll have to consider the kinds of skills the recruiters look for. It’s quite likely their application forms and interviews will ask for evidence of the following UniGrow top ten, which could all be developed on the farm this summer.



Ten skills and attributes to cultivate your prospects


  • Adaptability / flexibility
  • Resilience / drive / determination / work ethic
  • Timekeeping
  • Teamwork
  • Communication, including listening to feedback and cross-cultural relations
  • Leadership and management, including managing up
  • Problem-solving
  • Target-hitting and results-focus
  • Social and environmental responsibility
  • Commercial awareness

Discover more about these and other skills on TARGETjobs.


The list above isn’t exhaustive, so feel free to make your own. Sometimes you’ll have to think a bit laterally. If you want to work in marketing, communications, PR or journalism, for example, you could blog about your UniGrow summer or offer to write an article for your university magazine next term.






Step 2. During your placement


Don’t stress! You’ll have plenty to keep you occupied while you’re acclimatising to the job. Use the first couple of weeks to learn the ropes and get up to speed. Then, when you have a moment, refer back to your list and start jotting down evidence that you’ve acquired the most important skills. Think back to the first few weeks and consider how your experiences of work have changed over that time. You could even keep a weekly “skills diary”.


Money tree

Ideas for presenting your new skills


Adaptability / flexibility


"I was supposed to be gaining experience in a firm of solicitors this summer, but they cancelled my placement, so I adapted my expectations and picked fruit instead. While on the farm, I was transferred to another team where I went from being the fastest picker to the slowest. I quickly had to raise my game and adapt to a faster-paced environment."


Management / leadership


"I got a team of mates together and acted as “captain” for our application to UniGrow. That meant I was the one who ended up boosting everyone’s morale in those difficult early days. While I was on the farm, I also tried to watch my supervisor and see what she was doing well. I discovered the importance of clear communication, especially with non-British colleagues, and tried to express myself more clearly when asking for or offering help."


Resilience


"After the first few days, my back was hurting and it was pouring with rain. I felt like going home. But I persevered and thought about feeding the country! After my day off, I felt much better and started to focus on the positives. I was picking more efficiently, my back stopped hurting and I could feel myself getting fitter. I even started to enjoy the work."


While you’re on the farm, we’ll keep you on your toes by sending you some sample interview questions. Answers optional of course, but developing your skills is a necessity, whatever your future plans.


Before you leave, make sure you have contact details for people who might be able to give you a reference one day (as well as for new friends who might be able to offer you somewhere to stay on your future travels).




Money tree

Step 3. After the placement


Go home and have a long hot bath. You’ve earned it. While soaking, reflect again on how you and your skills have developed over the summer. Before going back to uni or embarking on your career, put your “skills notes” somewhere you’ll find them when you’re next applying for jobs.


Ideally, while the experience is fresh in your mind, write (or update) your CV. And, while you’re at it, type up your evidence for key skills in a slightly more formal tone, ready for future job and internship applications. Remember, UniGrow is about boosting your skillset, as well as your finances.


Get advice about CVs, application forms and interviews from TARGETjobs.





Still interested in UniGrow?

We are currently accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis with priority given to groups of 2–6 people.




Group GTI, under the brand name TARGETjobs, is acting as the media partner of Pro-Force Ltd, one of the largest providers of temporary labour to the farming industry. GTI is responsible for the promotion of UniGrow to the target audience, while Pro-Force Ltd., which is fully licensed by the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), is responsible for recruitment.


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