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Make university count towards your career

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When you’re at university, it’s easy to get carried away with the social life or get too bogged down with your degree. But with competition for jobs nowadays at such a high level, a first just isn’t enough.

Here are some top tips on making your university experience count towards your career.

Make first year fresh

Don’t spend your time in first year stressing or worrying about your career. This is the time to socialise, party and make friends. Don’t get bogged down with career services this year as you’ll never get time like this back again; with the workload not being too unmanageable and being in such a social, fun environment.

Get involved

Find out about some of the opportunities on campus, such as volunteering, sports clubs, societies and volunteering. There is so much to get involved with, and having just a few of these on your CV is a great talking point in interviews. It also makes you look like a well-rounded candidate and to be honest, it is so fun getting involved in societies and sports clubs. Some of my best experiences and memories come from these social events.

Use your resources

Take advantage of the careers service. It is free and offers so much. My university offered workshops to help with your CV, tips for interviews, and even personal appointments to get advice on how to go about what you want to do. They are even useful to go to if you have no clue!

Go to workshops and careers fairs

To me, these were invaluable. I went to several workshops for journalism and heard first-hand accounts of how people have worked their way up to where they are now and the pros and cons of the industry. There was a chance to network at the end where I made some great contacts. These are useful to go to if you are not quite sure what you want to do; they are light-hearted and a great source of information.

Get the experience

The thought of work experience and internships can sound like a lot of effort, however realistically it doesn’t have to be like this. It is useful and in today’s economy, sometimes essential. For some people, it can mean that you love it, and it has validated your career choice. For others it can do the opposite, which is positive as it means you don’t spend years getting into that career, and then after one day realise you hate it. A further positive: some are paid!

Don’t panic

Don’t let the thought of getting a masters or a graduate job sorted in your final year stress you out too much. Sometimes seeing everyone around you secure a place on that amazing graduate job at BMW, or masters at Oxford, can make you feel really demoralised, but don’t let it.

Everyone at uni is different, and for some, sorting all this out final year is just too much and having a year out doesn’t have to be the worst thing. It can allow you to have more time to fill out those tedious, long application forms and have some terrifying, awkward phone interviews. It really isn’t the end of the world if it comes to the end of the year and you have nothing secured. So many people end university in this way and often within a year have secured their dream job!

Be on the ball

Start thinking about it in your second year, not your final year. It is too much to get to final year and think: “I need to join this society, this sports club and volunteer here, I need to go to all these careers fairs, see the careers advisers, get some work experience, look at graduate jobs and study, and oh, and at the same time I need to actually do my degree and live my life stress-free.”

This is not possible, although many make an attempt at it. Therefore, I advise making a start in your second year. It doesn’t have to be tedious and stressful; it can be fun and full of some really beneficial, life-changing experiences.

Do think that you’re making the most of your university experience in terms of careers? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: Sian Elvin

Kristina DrakeMake university count towards your career

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