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How to start your career whilst still at uni

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Word on the street is, these days, just about everybody has a degree. While this is sort of true, with thousands of students graduating from hundreds of UK universities each year (and most with that ‘good 2.1’ that your parents are always banging on about), this doesn’t mean that your degree is worthless; but it does mean you have to work that little bit harder to stand out when it comes to job applications.

So how can you get a head start on your career while you’re still at uni?  Well, whether you’re studying neuroscience, philosophy, or fashion design, here are some tips that apply for pretty much every budding graduate.

Extracurricular Activities:

This doesn’t have to mean dragging yourself to netball and hockey like it did at school (although feel free to carry on with these if you so please). One of the main things employers look for in a C.V is evidence that you actually have a life outside of education; after all, who wants to hire someone that only talks shop?  As well as showcasing your interests (which will ALWAYS be a talking point in interviews), getting involved with student media, sports teams and university societies gives you the chance to meet new people and learn to work within a group or team – something you will likely be expected to do regardless of what field you’re in!

Volunteering:

Be it volunteering in charity shops, working on community projects or helping out at primary schools or involving yourself in university fundraisers or even environmental causes; there is sure to be something to suit you.  And, more often than not, you can actually put your skills to good use – making you look like a wonderfully charitable person on paper (and feel so in your heart, of course), and giving you the chance to show off what you’re good at.

Work experience:

Career-related or otherwise, all work experience is good experience. Paid part-time or full-time work not only helps ease the pain of student spending, but demonstrates that you aren’t afraid to get stuck into the world of work, even if it isn't something that you love. Get ahead and apply for summer internships or approach businesses for short-term work experience. As well gaining valuable hands-on knowledge, it shows that you can be proactive and self-sufficient.

Schemes and Short Courses:

Many universities offer opportunities to get involved with entrepreneurial schemes or career-based courses. You could have the chance to make real that millions-making business idea, or gain extra qualifications that could make the difference between ‘you’re (figuratively) fired’ and you’re hired’.  Talk to your uni’s careers department and see what’s on offer, that’s what they’re there for!

Networking:

Who knew, Facebook and Twitter can actually be a huge help to your career!  Alright, I don’t mean posting Instagram snaps of your lunch, or surfing your news feed, but social media has opened up all sorts of networking possibilities that can get your name out there to potential employers.  Some companies have Twitter accounts purely to advertise vacancies, and LinkedIn is an incredible resource for finding and getting in touch with the right individuals from the right businesses. Your uni may also receive details of local networking events, usually for alumni, but it is always worth asking them to add you to the mailing list for such things. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get yourself known!

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