By Helen Green
Students who make the most of their course tend to have a few things in common: they gain valuable industry experience while studying, think outside the square, learn to articulate their achievements and points of difference, and build professional connections. Ultimately this leads to feeling more confident when leaving university.
It’s important that you don’t wait until you’re applying for graduate roles to focus on becoming ‘work-ready’. While it might feel like your plate is full with coursework, these are things you can look into during the break or quieter times of the semester.
Below are five uni-run facilities that can help you boost your employability prospects while studying.
1. Careers and employment services
Aside from providing career and job search advice, careers and employment services typically run student-industry programs, seminars or webinars, industry events, workshops, careers fairs and so on. These resources can help when applying for casual employment or graduate roles, internships, volunteering, preparing for interviews, creating a LinkedIn profile and so on. Many uni careers services also provide support for graduates for a year after graduation.
There are often jobs available on-campus or advertised exclusively for students at universities. This might include working at a campus cafe, or being a research assistant for an academic or tutoring a student.
2. Student and industry recruitment events
These events are invaluable for gathering information about career directions and opportunities with prospective employers or industries. You’ll be exposed to different uses for your degree and get industry-specific recruitment advice. These insights are especially useful for those contemplating a change in direction or further study. Any opportunity to help at university events is great experience as well and looks good on a resume.
3. Research centers or institutes
Student involvement is usually very welcomed at university research centres or institutes. Apart from helping with your study, you’ll learn different ways to apply knowledge from your course. These centres also tend to run events where you can learn and meet alumni, academics and potential employers who are engaged in your field of interest. You can join mailing lists at other universities too.
4. Meeting different kinds of people
Take advantage of any high-profile industry speaker events run by your university — you’ll have the chance to develop terrific professional connections and learn about key issues and challenges impacting your future profession, plus current opportunities. Panels and speaker events are typically selected from diverse sectors and at various stages in their career. Nothing beats a one-on-one conversation after the event.
5. Professional industry associations
Whether you learn about professional associations related to your course on campus or not, they are worth looking into. The benefits of joining an industry association as a student member are many, and may include an opportunity to be mentored by an industry professional. Membership is often free or at low cost for full-time students.
Helen Green is a qualified careers coach, writer, and professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia. She has over two decades’ experience working in senior education and career program management roles, particularly within the tertiary sector where she has assisted many students. She is Director of Career Confident in Melbourne.