71.3% of graduates from 2016 were known to be in professional level jobs six months after graduating (HESCU 2018). Whilst having a degree is necessary or an advantage for many jobs, students also need to have other experience alongside their degree to help them get the best job they can in this competitive job market.
Below are our suggestions for the best ways for your students to get involved in activities beyond the lecture theatre to improve their job prospects. Students need to be looking for these opportunities from very early on in their degree, so schools and colleges play an important part in making their students aware of these opportunities before they start university.
Placement years (or sometimes a micro placement or something shorter) are now relatively common and are a great way for students to really boost their career prospects. Students usually undertake these after their second year, turning their course into a four year programme. Some universities guarantee placements, whilst some offer a lot of support for students to help them get one, such as mock interview practice, CV writing and practice skills tests, aswell as directing them to where they can apply.
Placement years are usually paid, in some cases ranging between £18,000 and £35,000 a year. Students are employed by the company either on a specific programme where they rotate departments or in a particular role.
Many students get offered jobs with the company afterwards, as the company has invested time and money in their training and development. They also often have a higher starting salary than other graduates as they have a significant amount of experience behind them already.
Internships are usually summer roles taken between the second and third year. These can be paid or unpaid, and are an ideal way for students to gain experience in their field of interest and increase their job opportunities when they graduate.
Students should be looking to apply for internships from their first year, as some companies advertise very early. Students who are organised may be able to fit in more than one internship during their studies, making the most of their holidays.
University careers services can support students in applying for internships. Students should attend any careers fairs run by their university to meet companies to find out more about the opportunities available.
Working alongside their degree not only helps a student’s finances, but also gives them additional experience to help them secure a graduate job. Students may choose to secure their own part time role, or can apply through their university’s own recruitment agency to work for the university.
These roles are often more flexible as students choose the hours they work by only signing up for jobs that fit around their schedule. The roles are varied and can involve a lot of responsibility, giving students great experience for their CV.
Getting involved with clubs and societies can really enhance a student’s job application when they graduate, particularly if they hold roles in the society such as secretary, treasurer or president, as these give students responsibility and experience managing others. Students may find they are offered jobs as a result of these roles (I speak from my own experience on this one!) Students should make the most of the Freshers’ Fair in their first week to find out which societies are available at their university and sign up to join. If a society they want to join doesn’t exist, the Student Union may be able to help them set it up.
We hope our short guide to how students can make the most of their university experience beyond the lecture theatre will help you prepare your students to make the most of university life from day 1.
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