Praveen Sharma

Your Degree is not enough Article by Praveen and William Elner

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Your degree isn’t enough any more

…So make the most of your final year.

It’s very easy to get carried away with the social aspect of university and end up graduating without any extra practical skills, other than the ones your degree suggests you have. It’s almost too easy to spend your time at university going out to a night club, rocking up to lectures hung-over the next day and repeat. Of course you should be embracing the social side of university, but there’s so much more to do than that. While still living some of the best years of your life, you also need to add to your CV and employability.

In recent years a lot of employers have said that graduates lack the skills to prepare them for full time work. Adecco, a large recruitment company carried out a survey which showed that 44% of companies claimed graduates lacked soft skills such as, communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. This clearly highlights the fact that graduates need more than just their grades to get hired after university. Graduates need to make the most of their final year of university before it’s too late and here’s how.

If you haven’t already, join a club or society. There are still plenty of societies and clubs around, even for final year students. There is bound to be something that interests you and even if there isn’t a clear choice, don’t be scared to try something new as you might discover a hidden talent. If you enjoy playing a particular sport then join the social leagues universities offer or try out for the varsity teams. Joining clubs and societies can introduce you to lots of new people and help you structure your extra curricular timetable. But don’t over commit; you’re better off just committing you one or two clubs and getting the most out of them, then ten clubs and quitting them.

Do an internship or work experience. It doesn’t matter if they’re paid or unpaid, at the end of the day you’ll get much more out of this then the five pounds an hour bar job you could have. The main thing you’ll get from this is experience. Having internships on your CV will look just as good as your degree; it also shows initiative, passion and skills to work in your particular industry. The main reason why employers back out of hiring graduates is all down to lack of experience, but how are you going to get an entry level job when you have no experience? Well an internship is your best bet; it puts you well ahead of the game and will make you a top candidate for the right job.

Take opportunities to really think about your career. Early on in the year take advantage of the careers fares, events, lectures and career advice you can get. It’s fine that you’ve done a degree in marketing and know you want to work in marketing, but what? The industry is so broad and there are many areas like all industries. You need to know exactly what you want to do and the best way to get there. So, talk to professionals to find out all the information you can. You need to think about the skills and experience employers will look for and then start gaining evidence that you have those skills.

Pick up proof of skills along the way. Anyone and everyone can say they have particular skills, but if you’ve got examples or evidence of where you improved your skills, then you’re a top candidate. A great way to do this is to attend work shops, gain extra qualifications/ certificates or take part in an enterprise challenge. This will allow you to highlight your skills and back them up with real examples, which employers love. This not only lets them see what level you’re already at, but also your potential. Perhaps another reason why so many companies have said graduates lack skills is due to the fact they have no evidence or examples of using such skills.

Make as many friends (contacts) on the way round as you can. Taking part in some of the things that have already been spoken about such as clubs, societies, workshops and internships will introduce you to a lot more people. And you should try and make friends with most of them, because when you graduate and you’re looking for a job sometimes it’s all about who you know. You won’t necessarily guarantee yourself a job by knowing a lot of people, but you’ll hear about many more job opportunities by keeping in touch with them. Also, after you get a job you’ll always need business contacts that you can go to for external work, information and favours. Try and make as many contacts as you can, talk to people and follow up with LinkedIn connections.

This advice not only goes for final year students, but first and second years too. The little things you do along the way to graduation can make a huge difference on your CV and make your degree worth a lot more.

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