So you’ve started your first year, you’re beginning to settle into university life, you’ve made some friends, done a little socialising and you’ve got forever before you need to start thinking about that thing called careers….right? Well actually you’re one ninth of your way through a three year degree hence it’s probably better to give it some thought sooner rather than later. So what could you do?
Are you aware of what is expected of you in terms of academic performance? Find out from your personal tutor what criteria your work will be assessed against and what academic success looks like! At the University of Warwick support is available if you would like to develop your academic skills and fulfill your potential.
Communication, teamwork, problem-solving, initiative, planning and organisational ability for example, are just some of the transferable skills that all employers expect, whatever industry you would like to work in.
There are a number of steps you can take throughout your time at university to develop these employability skills. Your overall aim should be to leave university with the best degree you can achieve together with a range of experiences and skills that demonstrate to future employers you have the potential to be a good employee.
So what could you do to get started?
Well, involvement with student societies and sports clubs at university is a great way of getting to know other people, have fun and if you can get involved in organising an event or getting something new off the ground, all the better. This will give you something notable to put on your CV and could be a talking point at job interviews. Remember the blog published in week 1 about improving your employability ? Why not give something new a try?
Work experience can really make you stand out to employers too. It’s the extra things that support your academic qualifications that often make the difference between employers picking you over someone else. So volunteer, gain on-the-job experience or take an internship. Not only will it help your CV to stand out, you will learn a lot of valuable skills and maybe even…. have a great time doing so!
In the 2016 ‘High Flyers’ graduate recruitment survey 50% of the top graduate employers suggested that it would be difficult to get a job without experience. If you have any careers ideas you would like to try out or employers you would like to work for, why not contact them? Do they offer work experience out of term time? Getting work experience in your first year at university might just put you ahead of ‘the game’ in terms of securing internships during your second and third years of study and could definitely help to secure a job when you have completed your studies. Many recruiters use work experience placements and internships to talent spot and identify potential graduate recruits.
There are many different forms of work experience (including voluntary work and internships), essentially it is anything that allows you to develop professional, employability skills. You can work part-time or temp during vacation periods, university careers departments may support students to both source work opportunities and provide bursaries to support short-term unpaid opportunities (usually in more niche sectors such as the arts).
What you need to consider
The Prospects career planner may help you to start to reflect on the factors that would be important to you in a future job.
Begin to understand your options now and in the future, research your eligibility for internships for example. Could you take a gap year and find an industrial placement or study at a European university under the Erasmus + programme? What links with employers does your university have? What have previous students gone on to do? Are there opportunities to link in with alumni and be mentored by them? Warwick, for example, has an e-mentoring programme for current students and graduates.
University careers services offer careers appointments to help students make career choices and develop their career planning skills, as well as providing feedback on applications. Careers fairs provide an opportunity to meet and network with employers and increase awareness of realistic opportunities.
Don’t worry if you have no idea about jobs/careers or if you have lots of ideas but have not settled for one particular vocation. Careers staff will support you whatever stage you are at with your career planning.
There’s lots to look into and explore and having said all the above, if you are feeling under pressure and just want to talk about your future with a careers adviser, please book an appointment and rest assured they are there to help you. Alternatively you might want to try taking one step at time and aim to do one item from the above a term, breaking things up into small, manageable steps.