2020 was certainly a year we’ll never forget, and the early part of 2021 looks like it will bring further challenges. However, the New Year is an opportunity to make positive changes and perhaps the pandemic gives even more reason to review our plans and set some goals for the coming year.
In last year’s New Year blog, our Employability and Careers Adviser, Emma, listed her clichéd resolutions as '1. spend less time in the Netflix vortex and read more and 2. finally stop taking sugar in my tea'. Clearly this was before we understood what was on the horizon – I’m not sure if she stopped taking sugar in her tea but I am certain that she spent more time on Netflix and read more!
Our personal resolutions may not be so cliché this year – I am sure everyone wants to spend time with family and friends and travel more when it is safe but also what does it mean for us professionally? – this is an employability blog after all 😊
Workplaces have most definitely changed in the past year and may never revert entirely to the way things were before. This might mean you need to re-think or adjust your ideas, but it doesn’t mean you should stop planning. Don’t forget, you have achieved so much during the past year - learning new technologies, resilience, overcoming setbacks and finding new ways of working. These are all important lessons employers will love to hear about.
Breaking a goal into small steps is often the most effective way to make it feel manageable, as well as keeping you motivated. Following Emma’s lead, I’ve picked out five activities you could add to your resolutions list this year.
1. Come to a virtual event
There’s something for undergraduates and postgraduates and whatever you are studying. Whether it be our upcoming Virtual Job Fairs, our ‘Be Your Best’ workshops, the Be Your Own Boss seminar series, or employer webinars, there are lots of opportunities to explore your options, network with employers and build the tools you need to be application and interview ready. Take a look at our upcoming events.
2. Be a volunteer!
Whilst some regular volunteering activities are on pause, there are still many ways to make a difference to the lives of others and your willingness to help your local community is invaluable. ARU Students' Union have a range of volunteering opportunities that you can do online or at home, or build your skills through online skills workshops via LinkedIn Learning – find out more at angliastudent.com.
3. New year, new (online) you
If you followed Emma’s advice last year, you may already have an ‘All Star’ LinkedIn profile? Either way, it is so important to invest some effort into updating it and make the most out of the platform. To help build your online professional brand, you can access an e-learning course through the Career Centre (search for 'personal brand').
4. Get interview ready
Pre-Covid, employers were already reviewing and updating recruitment processes, but the pandemic has hastened changes. So much of the process is now online and is likely to continue even when we do return to workplaces. Spending time now developing your knowledge and confidence for interviews will help you stand out from crowd when the time comes. Our newly launched Interview360 uses the latest AI technology to help you practice your interview skills as you can record answers and get instant feedback on key areas. Also our Assessment Centre tool helps you to prepare for some of the activities you may encounter.
5. Work experience
And finally… one of the best steps towards being career-ready is getting work experience relevant to your career ideas. The pandemic has put some things on hold but there are still opportunities out there, though you might need to look a little harder. Work experience helps you find out what you like – and don’t like – regarding a job role and workplace culture. Whether you have the option to do a placement year or are thinking about a summer internship, there are things that you can do now, such as researching companies and making contacts for potential opportunities and preparing your CV and cover letter. If you’re not sure where to start talk to us.
Wishing you a safe and successful 2021 – what will be your next move?
By Amanda Crouch, Head of Employability and Careers Team
Our Employability Service works with students throughout their time at ARU and after they graduate. The Service offers careers advice, online resources, and help with job searches, applications and interview preparation. Our Employability & Careers Advisers may mention some of these resources and services in their blogs, to give you an idea of the careers support that's on offer at ARU. Some of these resources sit behind a log in and can only be accessed by current students.