Welcome to my second part of ‘What I Wish I did At University’ if you have recently joined and haven’t read the first part then you can do so here.
To an extent I am good at motivating myself to get things done. However this point has been added because the number of students that moan that there courses do not include a placement but then
do not arrange work experience themselves is staggering. By planning your own placement in the university holidays (and face it students, you do get a lot of time off!) will show employers that you have a genuine interest in your chosen career path, initiative (or common sense depending which way you look at it), and motivation find your own placement.
Learn how to use software packages effectively
As dorky as it sounds it was only until after university and in my first full time role that I realised I just had no sodding idea how to use Excel and Outlook properly. Excel is such a powerful tool and the stuff I know now would have been really useful in my degree. If I had listened more to my Photoshop classes I would have been a lot better at Photoshop then I am now.
Attend lectures outside your subject area.
A little known fact is you can attend lectures in other subject areas as long as they are not oversubscribed. A little knowledge about business and marketing from lectures would have been really handy and shows employers that you are not just one dimensional but proactive in furthering your skills set.Creating contacts
It took until my first proper job to really understand what it meant by building a list of contacts. At Uni I didn’t build any contacts at all. Now working in marketing means I have contacts with print suppliers and design agencies, as well as a couple of handy work mates when I need advice. I also use Linked In to build a set of professional contacts. Linked In is a great tool to get yourself out there. A couple of people I know have had job offers through Linked In.
Don’t be too over reliant on Extra Curricular Activities
Here I am not saying don’t participate in extra curricular activities but doing them alone will not get you your dream job. Being Captain of a uni sports team for example is great as it shows team work and communication skills (and probably the ability to drink copious amounts of pints) but its not going to score you many points with employers. I think this is because by now employers expect you to be or have had some real work experience and not just sticking within your comfort zone. I used to play in a university sport team, be a course rep and take part in environmental audits for the university Green Impact scheme. Which although I enjoyed it is totally different from being employed in a work environment.
Keep yourself as free as possible
When I was younger (and more naive) I would go into shop jobs and have a couple of weekends where I wouldn’t be able to work when I could have really cancelled my plans. Looking back what is the point of employers employing someone who isn’t free straight away. I know a lot of students have genuine responsibilities which is absolutely fine. Sometimes I feel that people are too restrictive when they are choosing their first jobs. Some people very much want a 9.00- 5.00 Monday to Friday job when they have no other responsibilities or going for roles which are way over qualified experience wise for. I think if you being too restrictive and picky it will only damage your prospects and potentially you will be looking for a job a lot longer.
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