Welcome to a brand new academic year! Whether you’re returning to university or taking the first step in your higher education adventure, it’s an exciting (and sometimes overwhelming) time - you’re juggling your course, your extracurriculars and your social life and now we’re telling you to think about your career?!
Well, we’re here to tell you not to panic! We’ve got you covered with this ReFreshers guide to careers, which walks you through our 5 top tips for staying in control of your future!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the start of a new academic year, especially when you’re a fresher. It’s important to stay calm, take a step back and remember that you can do it! You’ll see there are loads of different ways you can progress your career and improve your employability during your time at university. For example, you can develop lots of professional skills and even network through your studies, by participating in societies and being a part of your university community. So, stay calm, keep an eye out for opportunities and enjoy the journey!
Use your Careers Service
Did you know your university has a dedicated department whose goal is to help you discover new opportunities and build your employability skills? Make the most of this resource, even if you’re not currently actively job hunting. It’s a common misconception that the careers service is only available during students’ final year. This isn’t the case! Your careers service is there to guide and support you throughout your student journey, helping you to understand what’s out there, apply to internships or placements, improve your skills, find out about student jobs or volunteering, as well as helping you with longer-term graduate positions. Find out where your careers department is located and familiarise yourself with how to book an appointment, who your course’s specific careers advisor is and whether they run drop-in sessions or not. Your careers service wants to help you, so let them!
Focus on building transferable skills
Transferable skills (sometimes referred to as soft skills) are skills that you can take from one experience or environment to the next and will help you to complete tasks effectively. These skills are varied, some examples are negotiation skills, presenting to large audiences, listening, teamwork etc. Employers love transferable skills as they show that you are well-rounded and have a lot to offer. You can develop soft skills throughout your studies, without necessarily even realising, as we talk about in this article.
Take advantage of the presentations, group work and other tasks you’re required to do and use them as practice, making sure you ask for feedback often. The earlier you start taking notes of your strengths and weaknesses, the sooner you can start building and improving on these skills, so that you’re ready to send off those applications when the time comes. You can hear more about transferring skills from university to the world of work in this Meet The Expert session.
As well as building on your skills, an important part of your career journey is knowing and understanding yourself, your interests and the way you like to work. Knowing who you are plays a key part in finding a role you’ll be happy in , as well as what type of work environment works best for you. There are lots of ways to do this. You can use our tool ‘Marco’ which asks the right questions to help you figure out your personality and the way you like to work. You can also use the ‘VIPS’ method to figure out what you’re passionate about. See this Meet The Expert session for a detailed explanation of this technique. Finally, don’t forget to take into account your values and your working style. Asking yourself which environment allows you to achieve the most and makes you feel most comfortable is hugely important when finding the right career fit. You can read more about this and how it relates to job hunting in our article on company culture.
Explore your options
Once you decide it’s time to actively look for work experience, an internship, a placement or a graduate role, make sure you don’t limit your job search! Use the JobTeaser platform to explore a wide range of different company profiles, from start-ups (newly established businesses) to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to larger corporations. Now’s the time to explore different kinds of roles and positions that you might not usually gravitate towards. Think about alternative ways into your dream industry and don’t feel restricted to pursue the most common path - sometimes thinking outside of the box is the best way to stand out from the crowd. Check out our Meet The Graduate series where real life graduates talk about how they found their jobs and what the path from graduation to employment looked like for them - you’ll see that there are more ways into employment than you think! Finally, make sure you use your careers service to get help on completing applications, preparing for interviews and assessment centres. You can also find tips and advice on this topic in our JT Tips series.