Having a degree already puts you at a great advantage when it comes to looking for jobs. Being able to prove that you can complete a challenging academic qualification is likely to put you in any employer’s good books. But, when it gets around to getting your first graduate job, you might struggle if you rely on just your degree being enough to wow the employer.
I’ve put together a list of things you can do around your studies which could help your future self get the job you’ve been dreaming of:
- Get some work experience or an internship.
This is 100% the best way to make yourself more employable. It shows future employers you’re dedicated to your development, and if it's unpaid, that you're willing to work for free because you're so eager to gain experience. Internships will often be advertised on Indeed.com so look there. Remember to go for something relevant - I study journalism and I’m currently doing an unpaid internship at an online magazine.
- Have a solid CV.
Your CV is the first impression of you that an employer will get – so make sure it’s a good one. Present yourself in a professional manner and list the things which are most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Realistically, if you’re after a job in a law firm – they’re not going to care that much that you worked in a café when you were 15. If you did gain very relevant skills however (for example sorting out difficult situations and being dynamic) then include it. Try to keep it short and sharp though, and ensure you tailor it to the job you’re after.
- Create a clean online presence.
Most employers will look you up online, so make sure you’re easy to find. Create a LinkedIn profile –this allows people to find a professional account detailing things like your past experience and education, almost like an online CV. Think outside of the box for what an employer will look for. Personally, I want a career in music journalism – so I run a casual blog where I review gigs, which I’ll include on my CV when the time comes. Also, make sure your presence is a good one! Have a look through your social media and delete anything that you think could put an employer off.
- Get a part time job.
Whilst it’s unlikely your part time job will be relevant to your course, it shows future employers you’ve got a strong work ethic. It also proves you can balance your studies alongside a job – organisation is a great transferable skill to have on your CV. Besides, who doesn’t want a bit of extra money?
Again, show that you have a work ethic. Volunteering can be really enjoyable and rewarding too, and there’s so many places to do it! Have a look online or even go into places such as charity shops or community centres – they’re always looking for an extra pair of hands. There's also the international volunteering opportunities here at the university, for example in Thailand, Fiji or Romania. There's a team dedicated to helping you organise and fund-raise for your trip too!
- Network and make contacts.
Nowadays it’s more who you know, not what you know. So, make some contacts, they’ll be invaluable when it comes to finding employment. Use your online presence to do this – follow people on Twitter or Facebook and speak to them! Reach out to your LinkedIn network too - you'd be surprised to see how many people will know somebody in your industry that you could get in touch with. The university also runs a number of events which can be useful for this, such as guest lectures and meet the industry days. You can find a list of them here.
- Be flexible!
Everyone has to start somewhere and you're unlikely to walk into your dream job straight from university. Before you reach your career goals, in the meantime, don't be afraid to take whatever useful work experience you can get. Remember once you graduate you’ll be competing against every other graduate for the job you want. Any kind of work experience is better than no experience. Accept that you may have to work for smaller, more local companies before you can be involved with the big shots, and that's totally ok. You may even just find a career avenue you never even thought of.
- Practice makes perfect.
Congrats, you got an interview! Don’t go into it blind. Get a friend to help you practice an interview environment by asking you questions that could come up. Try researching the company – some people post what questions they got asked at the interview online, often on glassdoor.com. This can be a huge help in the preparation and means you can go into the interview confident that you'll smash it.