The final year is looming for many undergraduates and with it comes the inevitable pressure of “what on earth am I going to do after university?!”. I, like many other students I’m sure, spent a large proportion of my 2nd year debating various post-uni options and career paths. I felt an increasing sense of urgency and as if the time to choose was running out.
So, I decided I needed to take some steps and doing something about it.
Instead of thinking of your last year as a countdown where you have to have your dream job lined up by the time you graduate, think of it as an opportunity to consider and gain an insight into different career paths. Remember, everyone is in the same boat.
It may be that your supposed ‘dream career’ is nothing like you imagined, or the friend with an amazing grad-job lined up could hate it and quit in two months. Whilst many people don’t know what they want to do after uni, it is important to start taking the first steps right now.
So, here’s 4 things you should do in your 3rd year at Uni to begin your career journey. If you follow these recommendations you will be well on the way to discovering exactly what it is you want to do, with an improved sense of confidence and employability to match.
Tip #1 – Get some work experience
Your final year is the perfect time to get work experience in the various industries you might be considering a career in. Actually experiencing what it is like to work in a given role is the best way to decide if it’s for you or not.
For example, I went into my work experience at Careercake with an interest in marketing/ PR/ communications. Doing this work experience solidified that communications is something I enjoyed doing. Equally, it could have made me realise that working in this area wasn’t what I wanted to do at all.
Both outcomes would have been useful in narrowing down my options for future careers. Any experience is good experience – your employability will be enhanced just by demonstrating that you are willing and reliable.
Tip #2 – Contact your careers service at University
Contacting your careers service is the most important thing to do in your final year. It is definitely worth making the most of these services while they are available to you. Free help in the areas that you need it most won’t be available to you once you graduate!!
A lot of students are unaware of how much their careers service can help you. I had no idea how much Birmingham offered until I looked into it properly for this article.
Zainub from their careers network highlighted that they offer “practical workshops on subjects such as job seeking, CV and application form writing, interview preparation and using social media”, as well as one to one appointments to discuss career options personal to you.
Tip #3 – Sort out your CV
Now is the prime time to sort out your CV and make sure it showcases you in the best possible light. Again, your careers service will be on hand to help you with this. They will be happy to read over drafts and provide feedback for you – take advantage of this!
Alternatively, if you want to know how to create the perfect CV, there are many online videos available. Shaping a CV to impress prospective employers can be difficult to do without professional advice.
If you’re anything like me, you might struggle to big yourself up enough, and feel as though you have nothing to offer. Getting an outside perspective to make you realise what you do have to offer, can be really helpful both in helping you to write an impressive CV, and improving your career confidence in general.
Tip #4 – Get yourself a LinkedIn profile
Many students (wrongly) perceive LinkedIn as for people already on the careers ladder. There are many reasons why you should be on LinkedIn as an undergraduate, and many benefits of it.
It provides an opportunity for you to begin connecting with employers/ companies you think you might want to work for in the future. It also allows you to follow your peers and see the routes they have taken to get a grad-job that you might be interested in.
So, while there are many more opportunities to take advantage of in your final year, these tips are just a few tips you can be doing to minimise the career anxiety that comes with your final year at university!
This blog was written by Luci King. She’s a third year student at the University of Birmingham studying International Relations.