Being a university student is a great experience, but there’s no denying that it can be overwhelming at times too. It’s hard to know which pathway to take when it comes to your future career. In many ways, starting your degree is the first step on the ladder. That said, this doesn’t mean you should have your future figured out. University should be a tool you use to figure out potential career pathways. After all, it is the ideal time to discover new skills and interests, and experiment with existing ones.
Below is a careers checklist, so you can determine what you still need to do to make an informed decision about life after university. It’s ideal if you are still unsure of what career you’d like. If you do have some idea, ticking off each of these may help to make your future career aspirations clearer. Aside from that, acting on some of the advice may help you to enhance your CV too.
1. Find work experience.
Being a university student is the ideal time to get a taste of what it is like to work in various sectors before you commit to a career. Work experience, whether it be an internship, a placement, or a voluntary role, is a great opportunity to gain insights into industries you’re interested in. Not only that, but it’s a valuable addition to your CV, showing your efforts beyond your studies. The University’s CareersLink website has a range of vacancies posted including part-time work, internships and so on. You can tailor you search based on your interests too.
2. Attend careers events.
Attending events like careers fairs and talks are a great way to talk to employees and employers from a range of industries. It’s best to go to these events prepared; make sure you have an idea of who you’d like to speak to, and what you want to get from the event. This will inform the questions you ask and the discussions you have. Be sure to take materials for note-taking whilst you’re there too, so you can reflect on the information you received once you get home.
3. Make contacts and network.
Events are also a great way to network and make contacts in various industries, so it’s important to be confident and make a good impression! These contacts may come in handy in the future once you leave university and look for work. Another great way to network is by making a LinkedIn profile. Using LinkedIn allows users to message employees and employers in different industries to ask questions and make contacts. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask other users for advice, and about what they did to make it to where they are in their career. Great advice will come from someone that has been in your position, and has made it in the industry you are considering a career in. You can also check out my article on creating a LinkedIn profile as a student.
4. Get involved on campus.
University is the ideal place to get stuck in and try something new – there’s nothing to lose! It’s never too late to get involved. You could join a society, get involved with student media, or get behind a certain cause that’s being promoted. There’s something for everyone in Manchester. It will give you something to enjoy outside of your studies and build your confidence. Also, it might help you to determine where you want your career pathway to take you as you discover new interests and new skills.
5. Make full use of the University’s services.
For any advice or guidance, the University’s Careers Service is a great place to start. The CareersLink website advertises events and fairs, and also allows you to browse vacancies. For mock interviews, help with applications, CVs, and other advice, you can visit Careers Desk in The Atrium, on the first floor of University Place. Some schools also have a Careers Consultant. Enquiring about this service may be useful if you are looking for degree-specific careers advice.
The University also offers mentoring in various forms. Manchester Gold is a mentoring programme that accepts applicants at 3 different points throughout the year. This programme gives you a mentor for 6 months, so you can get all of the information and advice that you need. There’s also Ask Me About, which allows you to connect with mentors for advice at any time throughout the year – no application is needed. You can also follow @ManUniCareers on Twitter for updates.