13 ways to boost your job prospects whilst studying
We know it's hard enough keeping up with all your deadlines, but using your time at uni to improve your job prospects will go a long way, too!
With so many students and graduates on the job hunt at this very moment (yup, even as you read this!), you need to do whatever you can to make sure you stand out from the crowd to future employers.
Thinking ahead and laying the groundwork for your career while you're still studying is a pretty solid way to go about it!
There are a number of fairly straight-forward things you can do while at uni that will help catch employers' eyes later in the game.
Luckily for you, we've put them all in this guide so you can get cracking!
Our top 13 tips to boost your job prospects
Get involved in uni communities
Joining societies and getting involved with events and communities at university is always a great idea – whether it's your student newspaper or the scrabble society.
What really tots up the brownie points, however, is when you take a leadership role in any of these groups. This shows an added level of commitment and gives you a lot to talk about during job interviews (although don't go too far with this as you don't want to come across too dominant).
Getting involved with a society or group that's related to your chosen career path is ideal but not crucial – it's all about those transferable skills after all.
Get a part-time job
Okay, so it might sound somewhat silly to suggest improving your chances of getting a job by…umm… getting a job? But part-time jobs are great experience in the working world, and will look impressive to future employers as you're showing that you know how to juggle work and studying simultaneously.
Whether it's helping show prospective students around the campus or working in a coffee shop in town, you're instantly a step above the thousands of graduates who've never had a job before.
Having previous employment – even if it's in a completely unrelated field – demonstrates you know how things work outside of the university bubble, and suggests you've got a grip on the simple things like punctuality and good team work.
Volunteering will always be a fab way to make yourself stand out from the piles of other graduate CVs (no matter how creative they are) and help you muscle your way into your dream job.
Similarly to landing a part-time job, volunteering whilst you study shows that you have great time management skills – with the additional bonus that you're devoting your time to a good cause.
You'll also get a lot more out of volunteering than you might at first realise – many organisations will offer you training and qualifications if you work with them. We've put together an ultimate guide to volunteering for you to check out.
Get to know your tutors
It's never too early to start making industry contacts, and your professors are a great resource in terms of helping you make contacts with the outside world. After all, they're experts in their field!
Not only will cosying up with them mean they should be more than happy to write you glowing references when you do apply for jobs, but they can also put you in touch with people before you graduate to give you advice on your chosen field, or even recommend you for a vacancy!
Connecting with your tutors on LinkedIn is always a great move, too.
Use your careers advice service
You might not be intending to enter the world of work for another few years, but that's not to say you can't prep now for what you need to do to snag the best job.
Every university has a careers service, and they should be more than happy to chat to you for half an hour about how to achieve your long-term goals. Make use of the service while you still can!
They'll also be able to give you some advice on how you can use recruitment agencies to get the job you want…oh, looks like we just did that bit for them.
Many universities also run schemes to help you become more employable too. For example, the University of Kent runs a Employability Points scheme to reward students for doing things that help boost their job-hunting odds by giving them more experience.
Do your research
Quite simply – if you know where you want to be, then find out what's expected of you in order to get there and start working towards your goal.
Get in contact with recent graduates in the sector who can tell you how they landed their gig, and take a look at current entry-level positions to see exactly what's required.
Even if you're not entirely sure what you want to end up doing yet, do some research into a couple of fields you're interested in and you should get an idea of some of the transferrable skills and experience you could start building on.
Consider interning or work experience
It's always tempting to sit back and use your summer break as an excuse to drink gin and tonics during the day, or sit around in your jammies watching Jeremy Kyle. But if you can tear yourself away for just a while, a couple of weeks' work experience or a short internship will do wonders for your career.
Many graduate positions will be looking for some kind of experience in the industry in their candidates, and at least an indication of some level of commitment to your chosen career path. Demonstrating that you're serious enough about your career to devote your spare time to it will look great to future employers.
Even if you're not quite sure exactly which path you'd like to go down, dipping your toes in one area will at least teach you a thing or two about the working world – even if it is just the fact you never want to set foot in an administration office ever again!
We've got everything you need to get started in our ultimate guide to getting work experience. You can thank us later!
Keep track of everything you're doing
When you're out drinking knock-off jägerbombs every other night, it can be somewhat tricky to keep track of all the wonderful things you've done during your years at uni.
Putting together an online portfolio on sites like LinkedIn, or at least making sure you're constantly updating your CV (and not just waiting until you need it to apply for a job) is a great way to showcase everything you've done, and will make sure you don't miss anything out.
This will also keep things fresh in your mind, which comes in handy when you need to fill out job applications, or talk about yourself during a job interview.
Networking and building relationships is a key way to get your foot in the proverbial door, and while tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are great – it's meeting people in the flesh that gives you the best chance of making a good impression and being remembered.
There are loads of student organisations out there to help support people trying to get into specific industries, and they also run regular conferences with speakers to give you a taste of what to expect.
Even just meeting people in a similar situation to you is a great opportunity for throwing around ideas – try having a look for LinkedIn communities or even Facebook groups related to your field, and get chatting!
Start a business
Starting a business at university will really improve your job prospects, as regardless of how successful it is, it shows you have an entrepreneurial spirit and will make you stand out as someone who goes the extra mile.
With at least three years at university to play around with, you can take the time to create an awesome business or creative project that might even have the added bonus of making uni life that bit easier for you and your fellow students.
It's a massive talking point for interviews (the more original the better) as well, so will really give you your chance to shine. If you're looking for a little inspiration, read about the student who owns and runs her own alpaca farm!
Pimp up your CV
One of the best ways to show how wonderful you are is to have more on your CV than just your school grades, degree and your paper round!
Regardless of whether you know what you want to do when you leave, why not consider taking a short course over the summer to top up your skills in a particular area, attend a one day workshop or try one of these free online courses that you can do from home.
On that note, always make sure your CV is up to scratch and is a good representation of who you are and all the great things you've done. We've got a fail-proof CV template for you here!
This one might not seem immediately obvious, but there are loads of ways that travelling will make you more attractive to future employers – 9 ways, to be precise, and we've got them listed for you right here.
So if travelling is something you've always wanted to do but weren't sure when to do it, we'd recommend indulging before you start your career, as it could seriously improve your job prospects.
Remember to work hard on your degree too
Last but not least, it's easy to get totally sidetracked by all of your amazing extra-curricular activities, but try not to lose sight of why you're there in the first place.
Employers will look for a good standard of degree as a benchmark for recruiting candidates, so make sure you put as much time into your studies as you can – and do your best!
There's nothing worse than spending graduation wishing you'd been in the library that little bit more.
Of course, these aren't the only ways you can increase your chances of nailing your dream job – but they're a good start!
Already at the job-hunting stage? Check out our ultimate guide to finding a graduate job to get the ball rolling.
Let us know if you've any tips you've picked up along the way that you'd be up for sharing – we'd love to hear them.