Coming to Cov Uni? Make your time count!

An important lesson that I took away from university is to make the most of every year (and I don’t just mean socially!)

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You’re probably starting university with the idea that getting a degree will make you more employable. Whilst it will certainly open doors to graduate opportunities at the end, a degree alone doesn’t automatically guarantee that you’ll step into your ideal job afterwards.

Graduate employers will be assessing your CV based on your competencies and employability skills – they want to see that you can do the job (and preferably have some valuable experience and an idea of what a job in that field is like). So, the more examples you can provide of how you have developed and applied your skills, the greater chance you will have of getting hired right at the end of university. Simple.

Make your first year count

You can never start developing your career too early. Whether you know what career path you want to take, or, like most people, you don’t have the foggiest, developing the right set of skills and exploring different areas takes time. Don’t wait until your final (and most busiest) year to start thinking about your career.

Make the most of the opportunities available to you and get as much experience as you can! I’m sure you didn’t hear it from us first! You have around 3 to 4 years of flexible living at university so this is your chance to explore roles in different industries with work experience, voluntary work, taster days, shadowing, what ever you like! Just get out there a get stuck in! This will help you to narrow down your choices and become aware of what you enjoy and where your skills lie.

Who knows, you could also:

  • Build some key contacts
  • Land a longer term role
  • Gain valuable experience
  • Find your dream career
  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Discover a new talent
  • Enjoy yourself (yes work can be fun)!

You can also read this great blog post by a politics student from the University of Warwick, who talks about how her experience in first year opened doors to exciting new career paths…

What you can do

During your course you will undoubtedly learn about communication and team working skills as you will come into contact with people from a variety of backgrounds, and you will definitely learn time-management skills and the ability to work to strict deadlines (long gone are the college days whereby deadlines are flexible and continuously extended).

However, employers want graduates to have further developed these skills in other areas, along with commercial awareness through professional experience and involvement in other activities. The more you do, the more you can support your skills.

Part time jobs

part-time-job-copyYour primary reason for gaining a part time job at University is likely to be for the money. But your ability to balance a job whilst studying not only shows motivation and self-management but also demonstrates a strong work ethic. Keep an eye out for our Part Time Vacancies Bulletin posted on the blog each week, and see our information sheet on looking for part time work on the Careers and Add+vantage section of the student portal.

Still not convinced of the benefits? Here are ten skills you’ll gain from working in part-time retail jobs.

Voluntary work

The Volunteering and Employability Department based on the first floor of the Hub Building have developed strong relationships with local companies who look for students to volunteer on a flexible and regular basis. The best time of year to visit them is at the beginning of the academic year so as to get first pick of the opportunities on offer.

Placements and Internships

Have you considered taking a sandwich year placement as a part of your course? Or perhaps you’d prefer to make use of all that free time you have over the summer by completing a summer placement. Here at the Careers Service our qualified Careers Consultants can support you in your search for placements and work experience.

Additionally, you can contact the Employability and Placements Unit within your faculty for help and guidance on summer and industrial placements.

International Experience

The International Experience and Mobility Service at Coventry University run a whole range of different programmes to suit your interests. The Erasmus study abroad programme allows you to spend a year studying in another country, in which you can receive funding of up to £500 from the University to cover the costs. The IEMS department have developed partnerships with various universities both in and outside of Europe that you can apply to study at.

IEMS

There is also the ‘Study China’ and ‘Study India’ scheme that the IEMS department help to promote and arrange. These are generally run over the Christmas and Easter breaks so applications will open around a month or so prior to this. For more information please visit the IEMS website or pay them a visit on the first floor of the Student Centre.

Want to Learn a language? Contact the IEMS department for information on how to sign up to their Linguae Mundi programme, which offers the opportunity to learn one of 11 languages.

Travel

Travel can not only broaden the mind, it can also enhance your CV! Every year, organisations promoting international opportunities such as CCUSA and BUNAC come in to the university to present on the opportunities they have available. You will find out about these presentations by following us on Twitter or FB. Or you could just check the events calendars on www.coventry.prospects.ac.uk. Another tip – you may also find opportunities to work abroad listed on the Coventry Prospects website, in areas such as volunteering, TEFL and teaching.

Karl

Feeling brave and up for the challenge of organising a backpacking trip yourself? Get some tips from my personal travel blog.

Even more things to enhance your employability…

  • Sports and Societies – become a member of a sports or society by visiting the CUSU website or meeting with them in person at the sports and societies freshers fair at the beginning of each academic year.
  • Freelance work – a good website to try is Student Gems for one-off freelance jobs and projects.
  • STEP programme and CV workshops – run by the Careers and Add+vantage Service throughout the year.

But I want to have fun!

Taking on extra activities such as a part time job, membership of a university society or starting your own blog doesn’t have to take over your life. Find the right balance, start small and just commit to a few hours a week, and you can still enjoy a social life in between! I can almost guarantee that you won’t regret it down the line, and if you don’t do anything then you will wonder what you did with all that free time you had in between your studies after you’ve left.

During my three years at university I had 3 part time jobs, worked as a ticket seller for events on a commission-only basis (which meant I met lots of different people!), completed a 3 month internship and a volunteering placement, and worked as a TEFL teacher at a children’s camp during one summer break. I still wished I’d done more.

Get out there, get stuck in and good luck!

Michelle 🙂

For further information on the opportunities available to you then please do not hesitate to visit us on the first floor of the Hub building, call us on 02477652011 or email us at careers.ss@coventry.ac.uk.

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Posted on August 29, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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