8 Ways to Boost Your Career Prospects While at University
Sponsored by City, University of London
It’s getting to the time of year when final-year students are coming to the end of their university journey and gearing themselves up for the next life milestone – securing their first graduate job. But before we get to the applying part, let’s rewind a bit.
If you want to land the job of your dreams, you’re going to have to do a fair bit of groundwork to get there – and having a degree under your belt is just the start of it.
Read on to see what you can do to boost your career prospects and help make you stand out from the competitive graduate crowd.
Use your university’s careers service to your advantage
Let’s begin with the obvious. It’s always good to plan ahead, and going to your university’s careers service is one way to do this. They’re a bustling hub full of opportunities and resources to better prepare you for the world of work.
Whether it’s simply getting help with putting your CV together, or getting advice about industry placement interviews, your university’s careers service is dedicated to offering you professional, high-quality support and guidance.
“[At the Careers service] the advisers spent quality time with me and pointed out what I have to improve and what I did well. This really helped me to perform on the day as the feedback was genuine and honest,” said Karthikeyan Mahalingam, a BSc Management student at City, University of London.
If you’re able to, apply for a placement year
Industry placements are the ideal opportunity for gaining relevant experience and are a great way to discover whether a particular career path is the one for you. Plus, if your employer really thinks you’ve smashed it, you might even have a full-time job waiting for you once you’ve graduated.
Although not every degree program offers an industry placement, there are other ways you can get some industry experience.
Mini placement schemes, or micro-placement schemes such as the ones offered at City mean you only need to dedicate yourself to between three and five weeks of work during the summer. Students carry out their placements with London-based employers and gain real-life experience by taking on exciting projects which also help nurture their crucial employability skills and grow their professional network.
City LLB Law student Sophia Demetriou-Jones said: “I enjoyed my micro-placement because it was so different from anything else, I'd done before. I was given responsibility right away and the five weeks I spent [on placement] definitely improved my ability to work under pressure, think on my feet and overcome obstacles more easily.”
Consider taking up a volunteering role
As tempting as it is to just chill with friends during your well-deserved summer break, or catch up on your favorite program on Netflix, volunteering is one sure-fire way of demonstrating not just your commitment to a cause, but your excellent time management skills too.
Whether it’s relevant or not to the career path you wish to pursue after graduating, having volunteering experience on your CV is a big tick when it comes to prospective employers.
Take part in a mentoring scheme
Mentoring schemes, such as the one available at City, are a great way to get to know the ins and outs of working life from somebody who has actually been there and done that. Through the scheme, students get paired up with working professionals who can help them prepare for the job market and give an insight into the industry.
Network, network, network
Don’t forget, your classmates are also your class colleagues. You work alongside one another on a weekly (if not daily) basis and when it comes to going your separate ways after graduation, you’ll do well to stay in touch.
Your professors and lecturers are also an excellent source for networking, so be sure to take advantage of their knowledge and contacts. They’re also great when it comes to references – who knows you better than them, anyway?
Attend a recruitment event or careers workshop
Career fairs provide an excellent opportunity to meet potential employers face-to-face. Remember, first impressions count, so dress smart and come prepared with questions you’d like to ask.
Is there a certain company you want to speak with? Or are you taking the ‘window shopping’ approach and simply going with whatever catches your eye? Having a clear objective can help make fairs less daunting and ensure you stay focused and don’t get distracted by the number of companies in attendance.
City’s Industry Insight Program offers students the chance to meet with external employers from an array of industries and sectors. This link with employers can be the ideal opportunity to build useful contacts, as well as get to know the industry you’re interested in on a deeper level.
Get involved with your university’s societies and clubs
Whatever your interests – whether you’re a football fanatic, have a passion for theater, or love to write – getting involved with a society or club on campus can benefit you in more ways than you may realize.
And if you’ve had a more active role within the club and sat on the committee, this is an added bonus that can most definitely be used to your advantage when it comes to applying for jobs.
Plus, it won’t even feel like an effort if you’re doing something you enjoy anyway.
And finally… make sure you have a standout CV
More often than not, the first thing a recruiter or employer is going to see when you’ve applied to a job is your CV. Now, they’re not expecting 10 years’ professional experience, 20 volunteering roles, and six languages to take center stage on your CV, but what they will be expecting is for you to be able to illustrate what steps you’ve taken to highlight your credentials and experiences and show that you’re an attractive hire. A well-structured, clearly ordered CV that pushes relevant experience to the forefront will help to do this.
Established in 1894, City, University of London is a global university committed to academic excellence with a focus on business and the professions.
City’s wide-ranging portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees have been developed by outstanding academics who possess an in-depth understanding of the job market and with the input of employers and leading figures in industry. Many courses are designed to meet particular sector standards, with a significant number accredited by professional bodies.
Based in the heart of London, studying at City means benefiting from its proximity and links to leading financial, legal, media and healthcare institutions, as well as being perfectly positioned to make the most out of internship or work placement opportunities.
This article was originally published in May 2019 . It was last updated in July 2022