Embarking on your university degree can be daunting and exciting prospect. Meeting new people, soaking in new knowledge and taking your first step of your career is all part of the university journey.
Many students use university and their education to up skill in certain areas and immerse themselves in theory and processes. Others like to immerse themselves in the “university culture” and embrace that part of their life.
However, there is an important part to your education that you need to take advantage of before you embark on your career. There are many opportunities open for students during their education that will see them leap ahead of their peers when it comes to job prospects in the future.
The 4 key ways university can help you become job ready:
It’s important to get as much practical on the job experience, as well as theory, while studying for your education. Getting your qualifications is one thing, but many employees will only see this as a tick box and something you are just required to have. What will make you stand out from the crowd in a job interview is your on the field experience.
There are many well known corporations, government or boutique consultancies that take on interns. Some might be paid, whilst others can be unpaid. However, if you have rent and bills to pay and can only go for paid internships, then this is still possible. It might just mean you have to look a little harder.
Whist interning, you will learn how to do on the job tasks. Although they may be basic jobs, you will still get a feel for employment factors in your field such as deadlines, teamwork, attention to detail and different types of projects.
As you gain experience, your CV will grow. Also, as you gain on the job knowledge it will be a lot clearer as to how the theory that you learn during lectures and tutorials fits into real life work scenarios.
Find a mentor
University can be a great place to find a mentor that you can turn to and learn from throughout your career. It doesn’t just have to be a uni lecturer, but it could even be someone you admire that doesn’t directly teach you or someone more senior, such as a PHD student.
A mentor is priceless when it comes to supporting your career. They can be sounding board for when you are unsure about your career prospects or what you should be concentrating on. They can help prepare you for a job interview, recommend you for a job or they can even be a reference for you if appropriate.
Talk with your lecturers
Your lecturers have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and not just what they are presenting during lecturers. What they present to you in the classroom is structured and part of a curriculum.
The questions you can ask and the answers you receive outside of class time can be tailored to your specific needs and where you want to go. They can provide stories, tips and advice on what is best or to give you clarity.
They want to see their students succeed and if you take the extra time to book meetings with them outside of scheduled class time, this will demonstrate to them that you are someone that is keen, eager and dedicated to their studies and career goals.
Pinpoint what you love
University is a great place to find out what you like and what you don’t like. Take the time to reflect on your different classes. Are there some you like more than others? If so, why?
When you analyse your likes and dislikes, this will give you an early indication of where your strengths and passions might lie in your chosen field. It may also show you that what you’re studying may not be for you.
For example, many university courses ask for you to take an elective unit, and a lot of the time you can choose something that is not directly related to your chosen course. You might find that you enjoy your elective a lot more than you mainstream courses. This should signal to you that perhaps what you are currently studying may not be for you in the long run.
University is a great place to up skill, build relationships and get on the ground experience before you enter your first real job in your career. Remember to take the time to experience internships, find a mentor, talk with your lecturers outside of class and find exactly what it is you love about your field.
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world.