Third-year Sociology BA (Hons) student and Employability Activator Amy Noakes offers her advice for developing your employability skills, planning for your future, and recording your achievements while you study.
Once her undergraduate degree is finished, Amy plans to study a postgraduate degree, and then start a career either in education or helping change policy to make it more equal for all! Amy also blogs as a Student Ambassador.
1. Book a careers appointment
When beginning to think about careers, employability and all the stuff surrounding it, it can be really overwhelming to know where to start. If you’re really stuck, I would recommend booking a careers appointment with the Employability Service.
It’s helpful to have some career ideas in mind when you attend the meeting or even just areas that you are interested in working in. These can be broad, as in the appointment you will be able to discuss a more detailed plan in achieving career goals.
I have personally used this service and found it super helpful! I had so many ideas and simply wasn’t sure where to go with anything, and the appointment really helped to specify my options and create a clear path on how to achieve my goals.
2. Keep a record of any extra-curricular activities
What I found really helpful over three years as a student was to keep a log of all the things I have been involved with - for example, volunteering, ambassador roles, society committee memberships and language classes.
This log can be as simple as keeping a note on your phone, or a more elaborate spreadsheet depending on your style! Anything you take part in outside of university could be very helpful to discuss in interviews, or when applying for jobs and postgraduate degrees, so it’s important to remember everything you have done in your time as a student.
As an ARU student you also have access to the Students’ Union Volunteering service, and this is a great way to log volunteering hours. All these extra activities really add up and become crucial when finding jobs, so I would really recommend keeping a record! I’ve created a simple table you could use for keeping record, which shows how easy something like this is.
||Type of activity
||Helped prospective students, gained skills
|Volunteering at local charity shop
||Communication, organisation, time management
||Raised money for charity, gained skills
||Communication, advocacy, time management
||Raised awareness of students' experiences, effected change, gained skills
3. Gain work experience
Work experience is a really good way to gain employability skills, and it also provides a strong talking point for job interviews. Many jobs may require a degree but will also require or prefer you to have some kind of industry experience in the job area.
A good place to start is prospects.ac.uk, which includes hundreds of job profiles. Here you can see if a job you are considering requires experience, and you can find information on what work experience would be relevant. For example, the job profile for a ‘family support worker’ states that experience in working with children, young people and families can support you getting a job in this area.
Though gaining work experience may be difficult at the moment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are many online virtual opportunities, and Prospects, as well as ARU's Employability Service, may be able to help with this. Check out the ARU Temps job board and the Career Centre jobs search for current opportunities to gain work experience and earn while you learn!
4. Use the Career Centre
One of the best things I can recommend to build employability skills at university is to take advantage of the Career Centre. The site is full of so many services, including CV help, interview advice, and much more.
I would specifically recommend the CV360 service, which checks your CV against criteria that employers often look for. Using CV360 completely transformed my CV, and now I feel super confident that I could use it to apply for a job! I have found The Career Centre so useful and would recommend the service to all ARU students.
5. Take part in the Employability Team's workshops
My final recommendation for building employability skills during university is to attend virtual workshops with the Employability Team. These workshops can provide you with loads of ways to build your employability skills, and they’re really easy to join.
You can find and book events through the Events calendar on the Career Centre website, then attend from the comfort of your own home – it’s that easy! There are events on using LinkedIn, finding graduate jobs, CV tips, personal statements, and so much more.
To talk to an Employability & Careers Adviser, just email firstname.lastname@example.org