Summer is here. Some of you will be heads down in really demanding internships, leaving you little time to breathe, others will be enjoying some down time. Great, but don’t let the summer pass without doing a bit of thinking and planning to support your career development. Here are my top 5 tips on the “jobs” you could be tackling.
1. Reflect on all you have achieved over the last academic year.
It can be difficult in the melee of university life, when you are balancing your academic studies with on-campus activity and paid work, to recognise all the skills you have acquired over the year. Now is the time to record what you did and reflect on it.
Take the opportunity to do this before you forget about all the great things you’ve done. Try to find evidence of the development of skills from all areas of your life. You might, for example, want to include aspects of teamwork from collaborative work you did as part of modules, from participation in music or drama or sport and from jobs and work experience you’ve undertaken. The more areas of life you draw from, the richer your “story”.
2. Polish up your on-line profile.
Make sure that your privacy settings on Facebook and Instagram are set so that any embarrassing photos can’t be seen by prospective employers!
Think about LinkedIn. Are you yet to get going on it? Do you already have a profile? Is it as good as you can make it? Are you making the best of it in terms of building your network of contacts?
It is worth having a good LinkedIn account. Warwick students can access some great training on how to make the best of it here. Why not use some time over the summer to build up your contacts? Don’t just press the “Connect” button. When you identify someone you’d like to link with, go to the bother of sending a connect invitation explaining who you are and why you want to connect. The etiquette here is different from that on Facebook. You want to make sure that you run your account in a professional way and that you impress your connections by being thoroughly businesslike. Making an approach in the right way is important.
3. Keep up to date with the news.
Whatever job interests you, it’s likely that prospective employers are going to want to see that you know what’s going on in the world. If you have no real idea what’s happening, it’s difficult to come across as the well informed, global citizen which most graduate employers today are looking for. You can access a lot of good news sources for free, try BBC News or Channel 4 News, as starting points. For comment you could try picking up Newsnight and The Today Programme. You might also want to read newspapers and, if you are aiming for a City post, The Economist is always a good choice. There are other websites providing information specific to particular professions or occupations. Engineers might want to look at The Engineer or Tech Tent, lawyers might be more interested in Lexology. Find out what works for you.
4. Research opportunities in your area.
If you’ve graduated and your job is lined up don’t rest on your laurels! You’ll want to go in and impress your new employers from Day 1. Now is the time to plan for that! Make sure that you keep abreast of what your future employer is doing, follow it on its website and social media.
If you haven’t got that job yet then use this time to do some research on what is “out there” and spend some time thinking what would interest you. Keep detailed notes of what you find out and try to narrow down your options. Don’t forget that you can access careers advice over the summer, we can talk to you over the phone or Skype if you can’t get to campus.
5. Get yourself ready for the next academic year.
Make sure that you get some downtime too and that you come back to university refreshed and ready to make the most of every opportunity offered to you! Your enthusiasm to throw yourself into university life will develop your skills and will be engaging for prospective employers.