The thought of leaving uni can be daunting. Many students are unsure of what they want to do for a career, while others find the idea of interviewing stressful.
If your time at university is coming to an end and you’d like some advice on your next steps, read on for our ultimate checklist on how to jumpstart your career after university.
Think about your career path
First things first, let’s consider your potential career opportunities. It’s likely you’ll be thinking about a career that reflects your chosen degree course. There should be lots of resources available at your university to help guide you if you’re not sure. If you didn’t enjoy your degree, or you’d like a change of direction, you still have plenty of options. University gives you more than just a degree, and you’ll find you have useful transferable skills, which could include reporting, researching, time-keeping, leadership, project management and more.
Get used to reading over job specs and familiarise yourself with the most common requirements and key skills. Make sure you have an example of an occasion where you demonstrated each skill. If you are missing a few requirements, don’t worry. Employers appreciate honesty, and if you emphasise that you are keen to learn and improve your skillset, they are more likely to consider you.
How to improve your CV
Next, when you’re job-hunting you’ll need a stand-out CV. Employers can receive hundreds of CVs for the same job application, so make sure yours is eye-catching enough and you’ll have a good chance of getting to the interview stage.
You should tailor your CV for each job application, as each role will have different requirements. Depending on what you’re applying for, highlight the most attractive skills and experience for that particular job.
There are a variety of websites offering a free CV template, which you can use to base your own off. Alternatively, your careers advice centre should be able to help you brush up your CV. Once you’ve written up your CV, get someone else to check it over for errors – you’d be surprised how many little mistakes slip through the net.
Once you’re happy with how your CV looks, book an appointment with your uni careers advice services to do some job interview prep, including going over common questions, learning how to look and sound confident and general interview etiquette.
Grad jobs and graduate schemes
A great platform between leaving university and starting your career, grad jobs or graduate schemes are a fantastic way to get a taste of working life. Both allow you to try working in your chosen field, gain relevant experience and often invaluable training.
The main difference between the two is that a grad job is essentially an entry-level role specifically for grad students, and a grad scheme tends to be more intense, with a structured training plan. If you’re thinking about applying for a grad scheme, you’ll need to start your research early (most likely during your final year of studying) to avoid missing out on a space.
Doing a postgraduate degree
You don’t always have to go straight into a career after university. Many students choose to stay on at university and do a postgrad degree if they’re interested in pursuing a certain aspect of their course, whilst others want a change and choose a different area of study.
Postgraduate degrees allow you to specify in a certain field, which may open up more doors to career paths in the future. If you think this is something you’d be interested in, speak to your personal tutors or career advice service to get more information.
Take a gap year
A final way you can kickstart your career is by taking a gap year. Although gap years are sometimes scorned, they can be an extremely useful career boost. For example, you could spend a year living in a different country, either working, studying or volunteering. You could even look into creating your own start-up! Lots of employers look favourably on gap years if you can prove they were beneficial for your career. Have a look online for some gap year ideas and see if any take your fancy.
So, if you feel anxious about your future, try not to worry. As a student, you have access to all the resources you need to help you make these important decisions; from personal tutors to university career advice services.