Starting University – 7 tips for new students and parents

Congratulations! A Levels are behind you and the “Brave New World” of university beckons.  The internet is awash with advice for you but there is a gap in the market around careers! It’s never too early to ask “What next?”  So here are my seven top tips to understanding what your university careers service can do for you.

It’s not what you might expect

  1. University careers support is probably very different from what you experienced in school. You don’t have to know what you want to do to go to see the careers service. You can make an appointment as soon as you like after arriving on campus. Use the time to begin to talk through what interests you and what might be possible.
  2. Don’t start your meeting with false expectations. Your careers advisor isn’t going to tell you what to do. At Warwick you have a senior careers consultant who specialises in your subject and who knows a lot about what others who have graduated from your course have done. You can ask for information and specific advice about what might be available in the knowledge that you are talking to someone who understands the market. If you don’t know what you want to do your careers advisor will help you to think about yourself and what might be right for you. This process is designed to empower you and to give you tools which may be useful throughout your life in both your career planning and your decision making.
  3. It’s up to you whether or not you engage with the careers service. Like so many things at university the offer is there and you can choose whether or not to take it up. In Freshers’ Week in Warwick you will find that your careers advisor pops up in one lecture or another so you will know who he or she is and how to make contact. What have you got to lose from making and attending a careers appointment? Over 93% of students who responded to a survey about careers in Warwick said that they had been helped by careers meetings. Chances are you will find it useful. And remember: nobody ever leaves university and says that they wish they had spent less time talking to the careers service!
  4. The support from your careers service is not just in the form of one to one interviews. You will find lots of career training activities. These will range from careers seminar sessions run by the careers service through to employer presentations where you get the chance to meet employers, often over a glass of wine and some canapés. Then there will be careers fairs when employers come onto campus to meet you. It’ll be down to you to look out for what’s happening and make the effort to go along, you might even get some free food or liquid refreshment when you get there!
  5. When employers are at university they are on the lookout! Most will take names of students who impress and many have computer systems which will remind them when you apply that they liked the look of you. It’s a no brainer that you need to do some research before you talk to them.
  6. You can keep a dialogue running with careers during your whole time at University (and, if you come to Warwick, for three years after you leave). Don’t feel that once you’ve been, you can’t go again and don’t worry about changing your mind and going to talk about a series of different things. It’s normal for your thinking to evolve while you are at university and your careers advisor will be delighted that you’re taking your career planning seriously.
  7. Success in some career paths requires you to take action in your first year; if you think you might want to be a City investment banker or lawyer and you are on a three year course, you’ll need to be applying for experience days next Spring. Understanding how to go about building the right experiences for a career like this is key to your future success. Don’t rely on student gossip about what to do when. Make sure that you have the time frames and application windows clear in your mind. Your careers advisor will know.

So those are the top career tips. You are about to embark on the next stage of your life, have a ball, and remember we are here for you. And, one last thing, why don’t you follow this blog?

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