or “What you can do at Uni to help you get a job”
I graduated a year ago from University and already feel as if I am ready for my bus pass. In that year though I have seen a lot of the experience I gained during the “golden years” prove useful in my professional life. So with so many graduates from top universities leaving with various letters after their name, what can you do to make sure you stand out from the crowd whilst you’re still at a student?
The NUS have written a guide for you as well, on how to make the most of your time at university to ensure you are the consummate professional everyone wants to hire.
Let’s start with the obvious…
Building your CV up with relevant work or experiences that develop your professional skills is important. Obviously an employer is going to look favourably on you if you’ve shown a commitment to the sector whilst you are still a student. However, don’t worry if this isn’t possible or your course leaves little time. Try and fit in work experience during the holidays- even if it’s just for a week or a few days.
This is also a great time to ‘try before you buy’- test out a few different workplaces/ industries and really decide whether you can see yourself doing this after graduation. Ultimately, any work you do is beneficial for your CV; it shows an employer you’re proactive and committed to improving your prospects.
I worked in my student union and as well as being incredibly fun I’ve managed to use lots of my experiences from this in interviews!
Brush up on your social skills…
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, Facebook. Being the social media generation that we are, it’s easy for employers to find out exactly what we had for dinner last night, who our parents are and what we looked like last Saturday. So be careful what you post online but also use this exposure to your advantage.
Try and build connections with people that you meet. You never know who may be useful in the future. Also research companies you’re interested in and try and follow or like similar pages or even connect with some of their team members. This will help you to gain an understanding of the culture of the company and keep track of what they’re up to which may prove useful in future interviews.
Social media can help you marketing yourself and getting people to notice you. Obviously we can’t all be Lady Gaga, but we can try.
Who am I?
3 or 4 years of living in damp student accommodation without any responsible adults will certainly teach you a lot of skills. It is important to find out about and develop your own skills and competencies for when it comes to applying for graduate jobs. Interviews are generally all about your strengths and competencies, so it will come in handy if you’re confident on these early on.
Uni is the best time to experiment with new things and perhaps uncover those hidden talents you’ve never realised. Getting involved in societies looks great on your CV for showing you’re able to work in a team, you’re multi-talented, and above all else, you have other interests and passions outside of your working life.
Step outside of your comfort zone, too. If you know you lack certain skills or strengths, try and participate in activities that will help you develop these.
Right underneath your nose…
Use the resources around you! Every Uni has a careers centre or similar which can provide you with CV advice, interview preparation and other opportunities. From working in recruitment, I have learnt just how important a well-structured CV can be. Ultimately, hiring managers will spend around 30 seconds on your CV so you need to make the most of these precious seconds.
Most career centres will also offer or advertise opportunities like: internships, summer positions or work experience. Getting funding for a personal project such as an innovative or entrepreneurial idea or an internship abroad will obviously show your dedication and ambition- very desirable attributes that any employer will appreciate.
Finally, follow the advice of Bob Marley…
And don’t worry! Even though it is important to be thinking about building your CV, it is also just as important that you make the most of your time at University and enjoy yourself.
– Jessica van Rooyen is a Marketing Executive at 1st Place Graduate Recruitment.