We’re now over half way through the academic year and it won’t be long before exam purdah takes hold and you decide that your career planning will have to wait. Before then why not take the time to think about your future? If you haven’t yet fixed yourself up with a career or internship, see what you might be able to do to move yourself forward. Here are my top tips.
Actively use Student Careers and Skills.
We’re here to help with career planning, CVs, applications, interviews and assessment centres. Added to this, we have excellent employer contacts and can give you up to date links and information on your sector. We host events and fairs, (watch out for what will be going on next term). If you are a Warwick student, remember that you can access help from your Careers Centre for up to 3 years after you graduate. You don’t have to know what you want to do to use us. In fact we can help you to find you career.
Attend all relevant events and book a 1 to 1 with a Careers Consultant.
Work Experience isn’t optional. Get it as early and as often as possible
It’s not about the money. It’s about developing your employability and finding what you like and what you don’t like. A good degree is important but employers will also want to see that you have work experience. This helps to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the world of work. It develops your self-confidence and your commercial awareness. How can you get work experience? Consider all options and read our recent blog. You might be able to find a part time job, (possibly building up to an internship), a year in industry, or what about work shadowing? Being mentored by an employee in your profession is another great experience. Network where you can and see what opportunities there are for you. Use resources, including the directories available free from careers services. Remember, work experience covers not just the paid opportunities, but also volunteering and involvement with student societies. Employers like you to have a range of experience and to demonstrate how proactive you are.
Work shadowing, insight weeks, internships and summer jobs. All work experience is good but some work experience is more valued than others – a year in industry is seen by some as the ‘gold standard’ (this particularly applies to engineering). Get volunteering experience or part time work and build up from there. Consider asking for a mentor from your University too.
Apply early. It’s the early bird that gets the great job.
Recruitment cycles start for most employers in the July /August at the end of your penultimate year, (earlier for law). So if you want a job – start doing your research early. Look around well before the summer. Go to careers fairs and events. Find out who is recruiting and when their closing dates are.
Have a plan! Research will increase your options and opportunities. Not sure what to do? Come and speak to a Career Consultant and get help!
Quality will always beat quantity.
Select the companies/jobs you want to apply to. Know when the closing dates are then plan how many applications you can fit in with your studies. Here are a few tips on those applications.
CVs: one to two pages in length. Remember to give relevant targeted information that explains why you are suitable. Don’t make assumptions; explain clearly. Tell them about your degree and work experience.
Applications forms: evidence is vital. It takes time and energy and a lot of reflection to answer the questions on an application form. You need to be able to match the skill set that the employer is looking for, so approach it as you would an academic assignment with plenty of research.
Analyse previous experiences to reflect on what skills you have and how you can develop further. Such reflection will help you to answer questions with clear evidence.
Prepare thoroughly for interviews.
Organise a mock interview – contact Student Careers and Skills for help. Research your company and sector and think what your motivation is for the role. Why did you apply? What do you know about them, their industry and their competitors? What makes you suitable?
Be practical, plan out your journey for the day and what to do if problems arise. You don’t want to be late!
Get your additional questions ready. You might want to look at our blog on this. Avoid asking about the remuneration package but do check out training. Be enthusiastic.
Get ready for Assessment Centres.
Prepare for these by speaking to a Career Consultant, reading previous blog posts here and by researching on websites such as studentroom or wikijob. Again it’s always about seeing how you evidence skills. The most important here are team working and problem solving. There are different kinds of exercises. Case studies are testing how you analyse information. You might also be assessed on your presentation skills? Group tasks are often negotiation based. Avoid being too quiet but don’t dominate. Strike a balance. If there are members of the group who are too quiet, draw them in by asking them questions.
Show you are a team player and remember you are not in direct competition. They may hire all or none of you! Think about your behaviour at social events. How do you interact? Do you talk but don’t listen? Bad idea! You need a balance. Final tip, don’t overdo any free alcohol!