What am I doing here!? – a question for all early-years students …..

question………and the obvious answer – ‘studying for my degree of course!’

Great – and lucky you! – 4 years to study a subject you love in depth, at a great university.

But what else are you doing here…….?

I would argue that you are also preparing for life beyond university (well, I would, wouldn’t I, ‘cos I’m a careers consultant!). But it’s true, when you do come to move on from here in 3-4 years time, it’s not just your degree that employers will look at, impressive as that will be from Edinburgh. It will be all the other things you’ve done here too.

Not convinced? Hear it from some recent grads:

‘Having a good/excellent degree is only the baseline – you need to show you’ve had drive outside your studies to be involved with projects, societies, positions of responsibility etc’ Philosophy and English lit grad 2011

Demonstrating passion for things outside of a work/study environment is important, as employers want to hire graduates with personality as well as professional ability.’ Psychology grad 2010

So, from the word go, it helps to get involved – join that club or society, take an active role, both in societies and departmental activities. And not just for your CV – for fun and developing friendships too!

I thoroughly enjoyed everything I did (Debating, LitSoc, Film Festival Volunteer, World Development Movement UK) ……..and my activities have given me invaluable experience in things I’m interested in pursuing as a career’ current final year philosophy and English lit student.

And it’s not just about clubs and societies – there’s also:

  • paid work to boost your funds, gain and demonstrate a range of skills and experience, both during vacation and semester
  • volunteering opportunities , to put something back, make a difference, gain experience, develop your skills and broaden your horizons .

Listen to Shyla (recently graduated) talking about what she did – via societies, volunteering and work experience – what she gained from these things during her time here, and how this has informed her future career plans and ideas, (plus an excellent example of networking to get vacation work!), via this short YouTube video.

Whatever you do,  paid work, volunteering, getting actively involved with a society, along with your degree, they’ll  all  help you prepare for your future after graduation. So, as well as getting that good PPLS degree, use your non-study time wisely to:-

horizon 2Broaden your horizons. Volunteer, get involved in clubs, societies, organisations, work at home or abroad – all can change your perspective, develop your skills and enhance your future prospects.

Develop your networks. Paid work, volunteering etc will bring you into contact with a variety of people doing different jobs. Be curious about what they do, broaden your thinking, develop your contacts.

Enhance your skills. Graduate employers look for evidence of a range of skills, including teamwork, problem solving, communication, leadership and negotiation. Work experience, taking responsibility, getting involved with clubs and societies – all great opportunities to develop and demonstrate these skills.

Clarify your career options. Volunteering, work-experience, positions of responsibility – all can help you confirm – or exclude – different options.

Develop your CV. Experience, taking responsibility – these add value to your CV and can make the crucial difference to your future applications.

Increase your funds. Last but not least – money: we all need it – to reduce loans, pay for semester-time expenses, travel, fund our interests etc.

And your Careers Service can support you from day one at university with:

plus exploring all your options

Use our services online and in person, and if you want to talk through your plans and ideas, talk to a careers adviser here at the Careers Service (3rd Floor, Library), and I’m also in PPLS every Thursday – watch out for the booking email.

So make sure you put your time here to good use – to explore, develop and take charge of your future, as well as getting that great degree.

This entry was posted in Career planning, General interest, vacation work, volunteering, work experience and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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