Optimising your summer break: Tips direct from DHL

Optimising your summer break: Tips direct from DHL

Wednesday, 14th of June

Optimising your summer break: Tips direct from DHL

Meet Jonny, a Supply Chain and Logistics graduate at DHL who shares a very open and honest account of work experience over a summer...

India, Thailand or maybe even Australia? Er no! My summer was spent at a warehouse in Mansfield and all in the name of ‘experience’. If I told you I loved it, I’d be lying, but looking back it taught me several lessons and demonstrated to prospective employers how serious I was about getting on the career ladder.

The first stage to tackling the daunting graduate market is accepting you’re not the finished article. Far from it, so put yourself out there to gain new experiences and learn. It’s not just about attending lectures - a good degree is important but it doesn’t guarantee a job with a top employer.

But beware - work experience is not a box-ticking exercise. Simply turning up and doing as little as possible may seem like your ticket to a weighty CV and a handsome salary, but when it comes to the business end of many selection processes you’ll be quickly found out.  It’s not where you were but what you did while you were there. Name-dropping a blue chip company may sound impressive, but be ready when the interviewer starts scratching beneath the surface.


Packing your CV with competency buzzwords won’t get you the whole way. Be ready for “but what exactly did you do?” - the polite way for the interviewer to tell you to quit waffling and get real with what you’ve done previously. Don’t forget, experience of the workplace and a genuine enthusiasm for the company or the work area you’re applying for go a long way.

In short: 

  1. Have fun - life’s for living, so why not travel? You’ll never get a better chance but find a balance.
  2. Make the most of your contacts – networking doesn’t make you a bad person. When I hear ‘Sally got a summer job because her brother cut the chairman’s hair’ I think  “well played you!”
  3. Look beyond traditional employers - experience comes in all shapes and sizes and isn’t limited to time behind a desk. It may often be unpaid. Running university societies or helping out at a local charity can be equally valuable but only get involved if you have a genuine interest, not because you think you should.
  4. Be 100% committed - enjoy the experience for what it’s worth and get an idea of the roles that best suit you.

I’m speaking as if I know what I’m talking about, but I initially applied for an operations role and currently find myself working in creative marketing. Although I’m still an inexperienced graduate who’s learning the ropes, the one thing I know for sure is that without my two summers’ work experience, my application to DHL would have been far less appealing and I probably wouldn’t have the great job I have today.  

I’m hoping this inspires you to be proactive with your summer. But, if not, I hear the beaches in Koh Lanta, Thailand aren’t half bad…

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