At some point in your time at university, you will very suddenly get hit with the realisation that you will eventually need to, well, get a job. It seems scary, and it kind of is, but it can be made a lot easier if you follow these important career tips for university students!
1. Search out internships or volunteer roles
Whilst at university, it may not necessarily be possible to take on an internship as well as completing your studies, but during the summer holidays, it is definitely worth searching internships out. Whether they’re unpaid or paid, the internships will not only put you above others in terms of experience, but it will also show that you are proactive and passionate about your field.
Internships are often advertised on job websites like Indeed and Reed, and they don’t necessarily have to be directly linked to your dream job; an internship or volunteering placement at a vet practice will still help you with a career in zoology. Interning and volunteering can also help you decide what you do and don’t want to do. If you are studying a relatively broad degree, doing different volunteering placements throughout your time at university will show you which elements of that industry you really love, and which ones you really hate.
2. Set up a LinkedIn account
You’ve probably been told this before, and you’re probably already rolling your eyes. We did too. But as much as it seems ridiculous, LinkedIn does actually do wonders for your career. Post any work experience you’ve got, and even post updates on good grades and projects you’re doing whilst at university. You will find that as soon as you start following fellow students, your network will expand to people working in the fields that you’re interested in.
On top of that, LinkedIn is a great way of sneakily finding out about new jobs and figuring out exactly who to send you your cover letter to when it comes to applying for jobs (look for the company’s recruitment lead or HR manager!).
3. Become as adaptable as possible
Whilst a job should not rule your life, if you’re going into a competitive field like law, media, medicine, or anything similar, being adaptable really does help. If a company is looking for admin support for their law team but you have to work weekends and evenings, offer to work them. If your dream job will require a commute – offer to commute. You can always find another job, but adaptability really can help you get your foot in the door.
This trait also helps you succeed within your career. If your higher-ups see that you are adaptable and can take on many challenges, you’re more likely to be offered promotions and more responsibility.
4. Explore your options
We mentioned earlier that internships and volunteering placements can help you decide exactly where you want to end up. You don’t want to do 3 or more years at university to end up just taking any job in the field and resenting it, so take your time across the 3 years to explore all your options. This might mean picking varied modules or maybe doing volunteering roles or shadowing roles. You might not know exactly where you want to be by the time you finish your degree, but you’ll end up with a better idea than you had when you came into the course!
5. Build up your CV
One of the easiest things you can do at university is build up your CV. Whether you decide to take on part-time work, student rep work for your university, or even just do some online courses on things like Future Learn. These days, more and more people have degrees, and you’ll need a little more than just that to get you into a role after university.
You could even include things like self-taught skills. So why not learn coding on Codecademy or a language on Duolingo? These are all things that not only show you to be self-motivated but also demonstrate an ability to learn and develop new skills.
6. Monitor what you say online
University is a time to be frivolous and have fun. There’s a lot of going out, getting drunk and stumbling home in the early hours of the morning. But be careful quite how much of that you publish online. If you’re repeatedly missing lectures or shifts because of your drinking, or if you have any controversial opinions, consider not posting them on Twitter for the world to see.
Or, if you absolutely must share things like that, adjust your privacy settings. Put your Twitter and your Instagram on private, and make sure only your friends on Facebook can see your posts. It’s also a good idea to see what happens if you Google your name and email, as it is entirely likely that recruiters will do precisely that.
7. Attend all the careers events nearby
Universities usually host careers events at least once a year. Local businesses and big corporate companies will attend this and take details from anyone who is interested in working for them during the holidays or after university. You get to use this chance to learn about what work is nearby and also learn about the companies in your industry. Just be sure to take a tote bag, as a lot of them will have leaflets and books to give you, and they quickly become hard to carry!
8. Join societies and clubs
Not only is this a great way to make friends whilst you’re at university, but joining societies and clubs during your studies can also add loads of skills to your CV! Whether you helped organise socials, did the finances, helped with admin or even just turned up regularly regardless of other commitments, those are valuable skills to show to employers.
Societies and clubs at university can also be a fantastic way to network, as a lot of the societies will have students further into their courses. Add them on LinkedIn and use their connections to help you out later on!
9. Don’t procrastinate
It sounds super obvious, but do not panic about your career and then procrastinate doing anything about it. The job market is insane, and jobs get taken almost as quickly as they get put up. So if you’re stressing about your career, the absolute best thing you can do is get on it.
Even if you just start looking into potential careers, any move is the best move!
10. Make sure you have solid references
Finally, before you start applying to jobs, make sure you’ve spoken to people about being your references. These people will be who your future employers will contact to confirm that you have worked where you say, or that you are a good fit for the role. Some of the best people to use for references include lecturers, heads of course, personal tutors or previous employers.