Enhancing employability

University is a time to develop key skills and attributes that will increase your chances of securing a job when you graduate.

Learn to step outside of your comfort zone and push yourself to try new things. There are so many opportunities available, so rather than having the mind-set of 'why should I do this?', develop the attitude of 'why not?'. It is likely that anything you do will be contributing positively towards your personal or professional development. Be independent, and the faster you learn, the better.

Volunteering is not only a great form of work experience, but it shows initiative. It demonstrates that you are motivated to participate in something that doesn’t involve financial reward. Therefore, displays different attributes to just having a part time job. Whilst in my first year at University, I got involved in a scheme partnering with Age UK, where students acted as mentors to elderly citizens. We taught them how to use different technology such as computers, iPads and tablets and helped them to develop knowledge and safety awareness when being online. It was an extremely rewarding experience, and allowed me to further skills such as patience and communication. It is also possible to stretch further than just your local area, by choosing to volunteer abroad. There are many companies such as Bunac or GVI that run different programs across the globe. It is a great way to experience new places and cultures, as well as enabling your CV to stand out.

From giving just a small proportion of your time each week, you gain a lot. It is also well known that candidates who have had volunteer experience are more likely to be chosen over those who haven’t. It ranges at each University, but to find out what is available to you, I advise checking your student portal or attending any volunteer roadshows.

In terms of roles and positions of responsibility you can get involved with at University, becoming a course rep or part of the committee for a society are great ways to add to your skill set. Becoming a committee member will better your ability of working as part of a team and also shows you have commitment to other members of the society. Furthermore, it will highlight your ability to multitask, since you will carry out these roles alongside your academic work. There are also a number of smaller opportunities that you can seize throughout your time at University. Some of your modules may be assessed through a group project, which provides you the chance to volunteer to be group leader. By doing so will help develop your skills in coordinating groups of people, communication and team work.

Networking events at University are another means to take advantage. I highly encourage going along to different events to find out from prospective employers what they are looking for from potential candidates, as this can help you get an idea of what you might need to do.

All the little things you do add up, and by getting involved means you will have concrete examples to talk about in interviews and makes you more interesting to employers.

Good Luck!

Portrait of Emma Mills

Emma Mills

Business, Nottingham Trent University