Why it Pays to Think about Career Early in University Life

Monday, July 29, 2013 12:00 AM

Lucy Skipper the Content Manager for icould.com, a careers website providing inspiration and ideas for young people, gives advice on getting yourself "work-ready" early in university life.

Faced with a competitive jobs market, taking some small steps towards your future career now will help you stand out when you finish your course. And the earlier you start the better, not only will this give you more time to try different things but it will also take the pressure off your final year.

Get thinking

Start by exploring logical connections between your subject of study and careers but remember,  you may need to think creatively as many students on non-vocational courses go on to careers unrelated to their degree subject.

  • Browse job sites to get an idea of job types or check out the videos at www.icould.com - you'll probably find roles that you never knew existed. This is a useful exercise to help identify any common themes or sectors. If a role appeals to you, look at the sort of skills, experience or further training needed and work out if there's anything you can do now to help you get there.
  • Research what you like - look at companies or organisations whose products, services or ethos appeal to you and find out about the sort of roles they offer.
  • Pay an early visit to your University Careers Service - get some practical advice on jobs suited to your existing skills and find out about their other careers-related resources.

Get stuck in

Most jobs require you to demonstrate skills and experience beyond your academic performance, so now's a great time to try new things and test your preconceptions - this can also help you find what you do and don't like and shape your decision-making. Explore your interests and passions - you'll find university clubs and societies from juggling to journalism - and you never know where a path may lead.

Try and get some first-hand experience of working life. Larger companies sometimes run formal summer internship schemes, or you can arrange work experience or a shadowing opportunity yourself.  Look out for holiday or part-time jobs within your area of interest - even photocopying and data entry provide a surprising insight into a company, organisation or sector. And volunteering is a great way to try things out, meet like-minded people and gain useful experience.

Get work-ready

Job applications often require you to demonstrate your skills. Create an examples bank with headings such as team-work, problem-solving, organisational and influencing skills and note how you respond to situations. This will jog your memory later and can also help identify skills you can develop now to strengthen future applications.

Finally, start to think about your CV - where are the gaps? And what can you do during your time at university to make it stand out?

A small investment in your career now can make a real difference to your job prospects at the end of your studies.

With the largest selection of real-life career videos in the UK, icould.com features over 1200 searchable personal stories from individuals of all ages, backgrounds and employment sectors.

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