The periods of nothingness between finishing a year at university and starting a new one, or from graduating to finding a graduate job can leave you feeling lost without a cause or relishing in your new found freedom. Either way, you should consider taking on some of these projects in your time in order to become as employable as you possibly can and avoid the inevitable ' brain drain'.
1. Brand yourself
Think about brand values or mission statements you see on company profiles and do the same for yourself. The most valuable thing is that you really think about your core values and what is most important to you, in terms of goals and what you want from your first graduate job. You should also identify what your strengths and weaknesses are, both as a person and in your abilities. From this you can then think about you how can improve on your weaknesses or how they can be presented in a more favourable light. Looking at previous work and projects can be really useful here as you can see patterns and physical examples of where your skills lie. Once you are familiar with all of this, you will be well set up for when you go for interviews.
2. Start a blog
A great way to put off the brain drain is to start a
. It can enable you understand more about what you are passionate about and help you improve your writing and communication skills. As long you stick at it and post regularly, it shows that you can be dedicated and passionate. Ideally you should try and write about things that connect with the industry you want to go into, this will then demonstrate your interest in that industry and that you know your stuff. If that doesn't appeal to you then you can write about something more personal that you are passionate about, but still try and link it back to how this benefits you as whole and contributes to your transferable skills that you can take into the workplace.
There are loads of blogging platforms available for free, I'd recommend
3. Create your own business ideas/projects
Think about relevant briefs that you could set yourself; this is particularly useful if you are struggling to find experience. Whether your style is entrepreneurial Dragons Den style elevator pitches, brand strategy or some design work it can all serve to enhance your overall understanding of your desired career path. Engaging in projects like this keeps you thinking about and working towards a career in your chosen industry. Working on self-imposed ideas can also prove to both yourself and employers that you really care about the area that you are going into. It also gives you more options to use in your portfolio if needed.
4. Teach yourself new skills
Thanks to the marvel that is the internet, it can be relatively simple to learn new skills, such as web development, Adobe programmes and SEO from the comfort of your own home. Tutorials, forums and articles can all provide you with the resources to gain some extra skills to shout about. Even better, if employers know you have taught yourself some of these extra skills, this will impress them as it shows you are committed to developing yourself and will put in the extra effort needed to achieve the best results. You could learn how to use a particular piece of software that you are likely to need in your career, carry out extensive research on a topic you're not too sure on or even learn a language.
5. Create a personal website
This can be as basic or as complicated as you want to make it. It can be free, with websites that now provide basic template websites that you can personalise. Or if you're willing to spend a little cash, you can also register your own domain name and create a website from scratch. This would be recommended if you were looking to go into sectors relevant to web development and digital, as creating your own website shows your knowledge and understanding of the field. If you choose to create a website, in either way always remember that content is king. You should ensure that all your content is relevant and is updated often. If you include a photograph of yourself, make sure it is professional or is otherwise appropriate for your chosen industry, no selfies! Some key elements to consider within your website are: about you, values, inspirations and aspirations, portfolio, contact details and a blog.
6. Get involved with a community project
There are typically a range of roles that you could take on within your local community, including getting involved with charities that operate in your local area. You could also look into any local clubs or committees that you could offer your skills towards these could be a sports team, theatre group, scouting division or whatever best allows you to pursue something you can really get stuck into. You could even ignite a social enterprise project if you feel that you have an idea to improve the community. For example, ways to fund a youth centre or to get new facilities in the local park/communal area. Not only will this be helping your wider community and great to put on your CV, you may also get the chance to do some networking and gain useful connections that could help you in your quest for employment.
These are challenging but rewarding projects you can undertake that give you a little bit extra to impress employers. Although these won't replace any experience or qualifications, having an in depth knowledge of yourself and your strengths can only serve to benefit you in your job search.