We all know that the promise of a ‘good job’ is one of the reasons that we are encouraged to go to university. However, the reality of the matter is most graduates leave university with an uphill battle to find a ‘good job’. There are, however, ways that you can make the post-graduate job-hunt struggle that little bit easier by improving your CV during your time at university. There’s so much rhetoric about things being ‘good for you CV’ but what does this even mean and how do you improve your CV whilst being a full-time student?
First of all, there’s the standard bit of advice like ‘get a summer internship’. But let’s be honest, not all of us can afford to work for free all summer and so shifts at the local pub will have to do. If, like most people, you have to settle for the easy money earners, try and do something one day a week as well related to the field you want to be in. For example, volunteering at a charity, or work experience at your local paper. This way, you can showcase your interest in that area on your CV and you also don’t have to grow money on trees to finance your next year of university. This is especially feasible if you’re working in the evenings and weekends at a pub or restaurant.
That summer job, however, could just be your easy, no-strings attached summer job or you can make the most of it. Does your pub have a social media account that needs updating and do you want to get into social media? Ask them if you can post for them. Or, maybe the managers going away and they need someone to cover their summer holiday? Put yourself forward. Often, you can make the job into something much more worthwhile to developing your skill base.
The most obvious bit of advice that you’ve all heard a thousand times is try and get some work experience. This can literally be a couple of days in your Dad’s Sister’s friend’s office that is sort of related to what you want to do. It just shows your future employer that you can work in a similar environment to the one that you’re applying to. It also doesn’t have to be 12 weeks long or once a week for ten months. A few days wherever you can will help. And don’t be afraid to approach companies and people for opportunities. The worst thing they can do is say no. There is absolutely no harm in trying.
Get involved in societies at university. It sounds cliché but there are so many ways that you can gain skills through being part of a society. There are literally hundreds of societies, charities, sports, random hobbies – you literally have no excuse and it shows that you have interests outside of your degree subject. If you can, get involved in a committee because it shows commitment and leadership, all valuable skills to show to future employers. Do the same thing with your society as with your summer job, how can you make the most of it? Your CV is a showcase of what you have done and how that makes you different, so get creative with it.
If your dream job is directly linked to your degree then take the relevant modules. It may sound obvious but we’ve all taken the modules with the least contact time or the best assessment for an easy ride. So, if you can do something related to your career, having that module highlighted on your CV shows that you have a real interest in the area, even if there are four exams after Christmas!
Finally, use the university careers services! I cannot stress this enough. There are so many good courses out there with the relevant information for so many different careers, and it’s all free! The careers service offers courses that take up minimal time and could be so valuable. You can go to talks about different career paths to decide what takes your fancy or even attend courses where you gain a qualification at the end. It’s easy to ignore those emails in your inbox but they are much more valuable than you think. Plus, if you attend a course relevant to the job you want, it’s the best thing to talk about in an interview.
In short, there are actually many easy ways to boost your CV and still have time to focus on your studies and your social life. Be smart with the opportunities you have and don’t forget about those right in front of you at University.
Published in The Spark Newspaper May 2018 and shared by the University of Reading Careers service.