Top ways to boost your job prospects while you’re at university
Preparing yourself for the world of work while you’re at uni needn’t be dull and laborious - much of it is simply about meeting new people and broadening your horizons
More than anything, it gives you the opportunity to see what’s out there and decide what you want to do next - and you really don’t need to go to careers fairs every week to do this.
- Join clubs and societies
- Use your university's careers service
- Go to careers fairs
- Write a CV
- Consider getting a part-time job
- Find relevant work experience
- Learn how to prepare for job interviews
- What to do if you feel underprepared for the world of work
Join clubs and societiesEach university typically has hundreds of clubs and societies that students can join. These include everything from your regular sports clubs, to more off-the-wall alternatives…
They’re great for finding like-minded people to yourself, filling up your free time with hobbies and interests, experiencing new things and learning new skills.
It’ll also give you something extra to talk about in your CV and job interviews, especially if you take more of an active role in the society. Believe it or not, looking after the budget in your archery club could be the clincher that seals the deal.
In fact, 17% of employed people in our recent graduate survey said that extra-curricular activities they took part in directly helped them get a job.
Use your university’s careers serviceYour university’s careers guidance service can be invaluable to helping you both set your sights on a particular industry or even specific job - and give you a better idea of what you need to do to get there.
Don’t feel like you need to have a solid idea of what you want to do for a job before getting in touch with the careers service - that’s what it’s there for.
- How to find career inspiration in unexpected places - your favourite TV show may shine a light (but maybe not if it’s The Walking Dead...)
Not everyone at uni uses the careers service, but 7% of employed grads in our recent survey said that it directly helped them get a job - so don’t underestimate it!
Go to careers fairsLook out for careers fairs being hosted at your university. Some are more general and wide-ranging (useful if you haven’t made up your mind yet), while others are more specialist (especially handy for those who already know what they’re working towards).
Careers fairs are good for finding out more about different industries, building contacts, and hearing about work experience opportunities.
There are a few different approaches you can take when you pop along to a careers fair. For example, you may like to make a list of companies you’d like to talk to and make it your mission to gather contact details for all of them. Alternatively, you may want to think of it more like “window shopping” - that is, picking up brochures and leaflets from a range of companies for further research.
Write a CVEven if you’re not planning on applying for a job anytime soon, it’s never a bad idea to write or update your CV.
For starters, it means that you’ll have something to send if you only notice a job you want an hour before the deadline… plus, it’s good to keep track of all your accomplishments as you reach them, rather than forcing future you to rely on memory alone.
You’ll likely want to tweak your CV depending on what you’re applying for (especially if you’re applying for a range of roles), but we’d recommend having something to work with ahead of time. So get writing!
- Don’t know where to start? Here’s our handy guide on how to write a CV.
When you apply for a job, you might be asked to write a cover letter - this is where you explain you're the right candidate for that specific role, based on your experience and skills. Before you put pen to paper, consult our article on how to write a cover letter.
Consider getting a part-time jobIf you can find a part-time job that fits in with your schedule and doesn’t distract you too much from your studies, it could be worth doing. As well as giving you a little extra money to play with, it’ll quickly build up your list of skills and experiences.
Working in a bar, for example, gives you experience in a customer-facing role and shows that you can deal with sometimes-stressful situations.
Find relevant work experienceIf you’re pretty firm on what you want to do for a job after uni, one of the best things you can do to hit the ground running is find work experience in that field.
Indeed, 34% of the employed graduates we recently spoke to said that the work experience/ internship/ placement they completed outside of their course directly helped them get a job.
You shouldn’t need to worry too much about this encroaching on your course requirements - work experience is generally organised for outside of term time.
You can often find work experience opportunities online - but, again, careers fairs and your university’s careers service can be goldmines. 10 ways to get the most out of work experience.
Learn how to prepare for job interviewsSo you’ve sent in your application for work experience (or full-time job) and you’ve been invited for an interview...
First of all - congratulations! If you’ve been invited for an interview, it means the employer thinks that you have the skills and attributes needed for the job.
But the work isn’t over if you want to make sure you shine in the interview and seal the deal.
There are quite a lot of factors at play when it comes to getting ready for an interview, so we won’t go into all the detail here. Instead, head straight to our full article on how to prepare for a job interview.
'I feel underprepared for the world of work - help!'If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and unready for the working world, first take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone. Most of us have been in the same boat - and some people who’ve been working for several years even feel the same!
Try to remember that you have a lot to offer. Building up your confidence that there are several opportunities out there for you that you can thrive in is sometimes just about taking the time to reflect on your skills and experience.
And even if you’re not a member of any society at university and you haven’t been to hundreds of careers fairs, there are still options open to you.
To help you figure out how to sell yourself, take a look at What do employers look for in graduates?
No clue what you want to do in the future? Check out these popular careers and jobs, including the route to these, plus these unexpected sources of career inspiration.