Making the Most of your Time at University
With higher numbers of students attending university each year, people need to work harder to stand out when seeking employment after they graduate. This article is attended to provide information about what can be done during your time at university in order to maximise your employment prospects afterwards.
The most important thing you need to remember is that you are at university to get a degree. However many other things you want to become involved in, your first priority should always be to your study. Whether you know what career you want to go into or not, you should always aim to do as well as you can in your degree because postgraduate courses and some careers require a particular classification to be considered.
With tuition fees rising and students loans often been consumed by accommodation costs, most students now need another source of income during their time at university. Popular jobs are those in retail, call centres and food outlets, although students work in many more places. It is essential that you check the maximum number of hours per week your university suggests that its students should work, because as highlighted above, your study is more important than anything else. If you know what career you want to go into, you could look for a relevant job, although every job will give you some transferrable skills.
Volunteering is a good way to become involved with the local community, charities or other organisations that will benefit from your help. Some universities will provide certificates for completing a certain amount of hours, and they may also provide the opportunity for one-off voluntary events, such as clearing up a local park. As with work, there will be some opportunities that are relevant to whatever career you may be planning, but each opportunity will provide you will some skills.
This is not the same as work or volunteering. Work experience refers to a placement, usually one or two weeks, where you go into an organisation such as a school or hospital and spend time with the staff, learning about what they do, observing them and helping out on occasion. These placements are usually undertaken by those interested in a particular career, such as medicine, teaching and law, so they can further their knowledge before applying for training.
Internships are a bit like apprenticeships, where you receive training while you are working an organisation. They are usually done during the summer break at university, or after graduation and can lead to a permanent job. Internships can be paid or unpaid, or they can just pay expenses such as travel costs. These are a good way to gain experience in sectors such as finance, although getting one can be extremely competitive.
There will be undergraduates in higher years, postgraduates and members of staff that are engaged in their own research projects. Some careers, such as psychology, prefer you to have research experience that is additional to that included in the course, and you can get this experience by looking out for people advertising for help, or contacting them individually and offering to help with their project. You will probably end up doing something relatively boring, such as data entry, but it is still useful experience and may also help you gain a paid Research Assistant post after you graduate.
Every university has societies which are open for its students to join, and the variety of societies that exist is huge. Examples are one for each sport available, conservation, debating, performing arts and ones for each political party. These give you the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests, and can be a place where you meet contacts that will be useful after you graduate.