University can be a defining moment in a person’s life, as it could determine where they end up in the near future and how they find and pursue opportunities. This does include:
- Whether they finish their degree and go on to pursue a career relevant to their chosen subject
- Whether they decide to change their course during their time at university, thus changing their career path, or
- Whether they decide to drop out to pursue other endeavours.
But, in order to (with relative success) embark on this journey of discovery, being informed is key, and there are ways universities are putting in more effort to help university students and their graduates succeed in whatever they choose to pursue.
At the moment, I can only speak about the university that I am currently working in, but the amount of careers resources and guidance available to students is astounding. Mostly because, ironically, I never used the careers service when I was at university.
But, I have found that there are a few things that students should do when thinking about their future plans.
What students need to know
Before thinking about what job to apply for or what companies to research, students need to know who they are and what they’re interested in. Hopefully, what they are studying will have given them some idea of what to pursue, but also getting involved in social activities (e.g. societies) and attending careers fairs/recruitment events, should help inform their decisions.
After figuring out what industry they’re attracted to and/or what job role they are interested in, students should then perform their own research.
They would need to:
- Find out job specifications, to identify what qualities and skills they would need to have or acquire.
- Seek out the values of the companies within the industry, the key individuals and the focus and developments within the industry. This will inform decision making, as this will help to keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry and the different companies
- Do some networking – seek out individuals within the industry on platforms like LinkedIn or use their university’s alumni network. Through this they can gain further insight into the industry, company and roles available within their chosen area
At this stage, students should have an idea of what kinds of things they would like to do in their chosen industry. They may not necessarily know what role they would like to go into, but with guidance and further research they could get an idea. In addition, students don’t have to be in a particular year when they have reached this stage, as people progress at different times. It is just important that when they are ready to take the leap in finding their career path, they know what they need to do.
How can the careers service help?
The careers service at the university I work for is dedicated to helping undergraduates and graduates pursue their goals. Whether it be about finding a part-time role, figuring out a plan of action or checking an application.
Having access to a careers service means that the students at this university can have help at any stage when thinking about the future. Which means that students should take advantage of the services and help on offer.
These services include:
- providing one-to-one advice
- conducting induction talks
- providing online and print resources
- organising and attending fairs and events
- producing online courses
In addition, the careers website is designed to force people to think about where they are out of three stages. Thus, when they have identified what stage they are at, they can click on the relevant link, which then gives them a variety of things to look at associated with that stage.
For example, for those who have no idea what they want to do, there is a link that directs them to the different kinds of opportunites available to them.
Thus, whilst it is important that students perform their own research and explore their options, the careers service is available to help prepare and guide them. Therefore, students should be aware of the services that are being provided to them, in order to ensure that they are at an advantage when moving on from university.