A few things are more or less inevitable when you begin university study – you’re going to be skint, you’re going to find great excuses for delaying thinking seriously about your future career and you’re going to spend way too much money on alcohol. Even if you spend your university years living from pay check to pay check, you shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture and why you’re there – to learn, to grow and to get a job.
Graduate employment roles are extremely competitive in every discipline and you can’t wait until your final year to pick up the attributes you need to get a great grad job. The more employable you make yourself during you studies the more chance you have of nabbing the job you want with the salary you’ve worked so hard for.
Here are a few suggestions of things you should do during your degree to improve your graduate portfolio:
Volunteering for not for profit organisations is excellent for your resume for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that you have an awareness of social justice and that you’re prepared to make sacrifices. Secondly, any experience is experience, paid or not. Lots of not for profit organisations can’t afford to have a fully paid staff body and volunteers will perform all the duties of salaried employees. Volunteering is such a valuable foot in the door. You should try and volunteer with one organisation at a time the whole way through your degree.
Volunteering overseas is also a great idea and adds incredible diversity to your CV. It’s also an excuse to see the world and travel before you settle down as a graduate.
There are literally hundreds of organisations domestically which constantly need volunteers and just as many companies who run overseas programs. A quick net search will bring up oodles of results.
Get involved with your University
No matter what uni you attend or what discipline your degree is in you’ll find an endless supply of extra curricular activities available. Every activity you engage with at uni can potentially go on your resume. Joining clubs and organisations early means you’ll be more likely to get a leadership role later in your degree which looks awesome to potential employers.
- Join all the clubs and committees relevant to your degree or areas of interest
- Join your student society
- Get involved in the humanitarian and research programs your faculty offers
- Partake in competitions run by your faculty
- Attend as many extra curricular lectures and seminars as your timetable allows
- Network! Through your uni and the programs on offer you’ll have so many networking opportunities and remember – it’s not what you know it’s who you know!
Paid and unpaid internships
Internships can be competitive but are really essential to have on your CV. Your university will advertise relevant internships as they arise but you should try and keep your pulse on what’s available all the time. Researching your field early in the piece will give you a better understanding of what’s out there and what organisations offer good internship programs. You’ll probably find yourself apply for numerous internships throughout your degree which can be annoyingly time consuming but it’s worth it in the end.
Part time work while at University
Believe it or not, this is known in HR circles as the least important of the relevant graduate attributes. Employers understand that working long hours in demanding roles isn’t always possible for students and they expect you to spend lost of your spare time studying (and drinking). If possible you should try and find a part time job in an area relevant to your study and career. The more you partake in the activities listed above, the more chance you have of landing the part time role you want.
The golden rule?
Get amongst it! Take on as much as you can. The biggest mistake students make is sitting back and cruising through their subjects thinking a degree will get them hired. The more diverse and active you are, the more employable you are and the better your starting salary will be.