One of the great aspects of university life is the brilliant careers service they offer. There will be no other time in your life when you can access everything you need in one place to help you think about careers that suit you, work towards a career and get that dream job, so make the most of it while you can. Your university careers service will be run by experienced professionals who understand the jobs market and all the different industries available to you, and what employers are looking for. They’ve also seen a wealth of students come through their door, so they won’t be flummoxed by your questions.
After you’ve settled in, first year is an ideal time to connect with your careers service, and your first port of call may be to ask them where and how to go about looking for part time work. Once you’ve got yourself through the door, you can then see what else they have to offer and where to start on your career journey.
Careers services at universities differ from one to the other, however it’s likely that they’ll offer:
- Career guidance interviews - a one-to-one 30-45 minute interview based on a career topic of your choice. You won’t be able to continuously access these interviews, however they can help you work through some of your career troubles such as:
- Database of practice aptitude tests for graduate jobs and internships. Most graduate and internship recruitment asks you to complete aptitude tests as part of their application process. Universities provide a database of practice tests for you to understand how they work, try them out and gain feedback on how you can improve.
- Information on further study - if you are not yet ready to leave university just yet, the careers service will have information about how, when and where to apply for a postgraduate place such as a Master’s or PhD. There will also be information about further study for a specific career such as a PGCE if you wish to become a teacher or a law conversion course.
- Information about your degree - again these may be available online for you to download or in hard copy, and will give you a chance to understand what common careers paths are available to people with your degree, what skills you will have gained from your degree and where further study can take you.
- Information booklets about different careers and industries - these may be available online for you to download or in hard copy, and they will tell you how to go about getting into a particular career and industry, what skills and qualifications you’ll need, how you can move up the ladder, and if it is an industry what job roles are available within the industry. Feel free to pick up as many as you are interested in.
- I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate, what are my options?
- What jobs can I get with my degree?
- How do my skills fit in the labour market?
- I’m interested in taking a gap year after I graduate and I want to plan something employers will value.
- I’m thinking of leaving/changing my course and want to talk through the pros and cons.
- I’m interested in doing a masters or PhD, what are my options?
- Information on CVs, cover letters and application forms to give you the best chance at making a good first impression to employers.
- Information on interviews. This may include personal experience of interviews and the recruitment process at specific companies from past students, if it’s a company that lots of previous students have applied to, and interview tips. Some universities may also offer you mock interviews so you can practice before your big day.
- Job search - the ability to look for part time jobs, holiday jobs, internships, graduate schemes, working abroad opportunities, voluntary work etc.
- Events such as workshops, small group sessions, information sessions and career fairs. Careers fairs such as job shop and volunteering fair, and graduate careers fair may take once a year, whereas workshops, information and small group sessions might take place every week. These could help you with a range of different things from writing your CV and cover letter to information on specific programmes such as applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream or going into teaching.
Most university careers services can also be used for the following couple of years after graduation. You can either attend them directly, speak on the phone to an advisor or use your login and password access the information online. They are useful for students who have taken a gap year and are finally ready to look for their first job, those who are in employment in a non-graduate role and want to apply for graduate schemes or those whose first job didn’t go to plan and want to make a career change.