Our top five things you can do now which will help you get a job after you graduate.
You're in your final year of university, and the reality of finding a graduate job is starting to creep up on you. After over two years of uni parties and (hopefully) passing grades, you may start to worry that all you'll have to put on your CV is your degree...
Don't panic! There are plenty of things you can still do in your last year of university to help improve your chance of getting a job after graduation. Here are our top five.
1. Sign up to a society
Remember fresher's week, when you signed up to all those societies to get free pens and sweets? It's time to take advantage of some of those fantastic opportunities. Employers love to see student societies on a CV. They say "enthusiastic", "organised", and "team player." The only thing employers love more than someone who participates in a society is someone who runs a society. Lucky for you, it doesn't take much to get involved - you pretty much just have to show up and volunteer.
There are traditional roles such as Chairperson (or Captain for the sporting types) and Events/Social Secretary or Treasurer, but even if these roles have been filled, you can still make up your own. Offer to take over social media for the group, or volunteer to handle marketing to attract new recruits. Get creative to find ways to hone your workplace skills.
2. Get to work early
If you think the only time to do an internship or a work experience placement is between second and third year, you're wrong. While it's true that most internships and summer placements run during that window, you always have the option to source your own.
With a month holiday over Christmas and the period between the end of your exams and the end of your tenancy, why not see if you can do some work shadowing at local organisations?
We'll let you in on a little secret. Everyone knows work experience is a big gold star on any graduate job application - but employers don't expect graduates to have spent months at different companies, or to have redefined industry practices. One of the most impressive things a graduate can do is prove their commitment and dedication by creating their own opportunities—and that includes finding your own internship/work experience.
Now is also the time to make contingency plans. If you are looking to stay close to your university after graduation, get a part-time job—the more closely related to your field, the better. You'll build essential workplace skills, such as communication, customer service and sales, as well as gain a life-line to go full time, which might enable you to stay close to the action when your student loan money runs out.
3. Employability Awards
Many universities issue awards for students who have gone the extra mile to make themselves more well-rounded (and employable). Earning one of these awards, officially accredited by your university, is a great investment of time and effort - especially when all it costs you is a few hours a week.
Most of these awards and recognitions simply require students to take on activities like work experience or extra-curriculars, with add-ons such as classes on networking, leadership and other personal development. Stop by your university careers service to see what your uni has to offer.
4. Don't miss the boat
One crucial mistake students make is missing the HMS Graduate Scheme. Many soon-to-be graduates wait until after they've completed all their university work to send out applications, but by then? The chance to work with The Civil Service will be long gone, applications for BP will have been closed for months, John Lewis won't be looking for graduates anymore, BT will have shut up shop late the previous year… You get the idea.
Not enough noise is made about the graduate scheme recruitment period, so here we are ringing the bell: Graduate Scheme applications are usually open from September to December/January.
That means NOW is the time to apply!
5. Keep up the good work!
We know, we know—during your final year, you have a great many things on your plate. So while we encourage you to get as much experience as you can, to take control of societies and work towards your university's employability award, we also want to remind you that your efforts mustn't be at the expense of your final classification.
If you allow your grades to suffer because you take on too many extracurricular projects, you will be doing yourself a disservice. Remember—you can gain experience later if necessary, but you only get one go around at your degree classification. So find the balance that works for you.
Bottom line: enjoy your remaining time at university, make the most of living with your friends and of the opportunities and facilities available, and don't forget—there is plenty more to look forward to.