In this new blog from Career Savvy, the team look at career tips for freshers.
For many of you, the start of university is just around the corner. This exciting time in your life is something to relish, and fresher’s week is the ideal time for memories to be made. Although you might view it as being a while off, the start of your career is closer than you think. So we’ve assembled some top tips that will enable you to be a career savvy student and make sure you’re ahead of the game.
Identify your interests
You may have an idea of what you’d like to do after university, or perhaps not. Either way, your degree is the ideal opportunity to figure this out. Using the skills you pick up during your studies, acknowledge the areas you enjoy and are strong at against the ones you struggle in. For instance, you could resent writing essays but love giving presentations and being involved in discussions, meaning your skills may lend themselves to a client-facing or sales role.
To be career ready when you graduate, you need to take some time during your degree to add to your CV. The value of work experience cannot be underestimated, and many employers now expect graduates to have completed some while at university. As many graduates are aware of this, placements can be competitive and are booked up far in advance. This is why it pays to start locating and applying for opportunities as early as possible.
Manage Your Work/Life Balance
Many of you will look for a part-time job during university to help pay for the cost of living. This is a good idea, as long as you can ensure it will fit around your studies. It is important that you don’t put pressure on yourself to take on too many hours and end up struggling with your course workload. If finance becomes too much of a concern, universities have student advice centres where you can seek the right help. Many will lend their students emergency loans with little (or no) interest – there will always be somewhere you can go for help.
There are a wealth of exciting activities and events going on at university outside of lectures, and a lot of them can help your career along too. Involvement in societies and volunteering is excellent for your CV. This experience can help you gain essential workplace skills, such as teamwork and organisation, expanding your knowledge and learning new skills. Fresher’s week is the ideal time to find out what’s on offer and what you can get involved with, as societies will be recruiting new members.
Create Contacts and Network
You may be less aware that there are often great opportunities during university for professional networking. Keep your eyes peeled for any kind of opportunity: attend talks from guest speakers and stay to the end to ask them questions. If you can connect with them on LinkedIn or Twitter, even better. Look out for and visit careers fairs or employment events on campus – they happen often and can be useful, even if the companies attending don’t seem like the type you might want to work for.
Use your Resources
It’s surprising how many students don’t visit their university’s careers centre. The careers team are not just there for final year students and they can help you with a wealth of things, including CVs, interviews and assisting you with your career decisions. They will have contacts that you don’t have, and are contacted by companies looking for student interns or work experience which you can get involved with. All in all, they are a resource to be utilised to the max!
Find a Mentor
As a student, this is a great time to obtain a career mentor. You can speak to someone already in your desired industry and gain a valuable insight into how they got there, what their role is like and what kind of opportunities the industry holds. A lot of universities now run mentoring schemes, so you can talk to your career centre about this. Alternatively, you could locate a mentor yourself in the form of a tutor or lecturer. You could also find one online, on www.mentormatchme.com.
Don’t wait until you graduate to experience going for interviews, writing cover letters and perfecting your CV. These next few years are your perfect chance to become career-ready. Do practise interviews to make yourself well-rehearsed. Also, get your university tutors or careers advisors to read your CV and cover letters and critique them for you. If you can nail the basics in plenty of time, the rest of the recruitment process becomes less daunting and a lot more manageable after you graduate.