5 ways to improve your career prospects while studying
By Helen Green
2020 has been tough for tertiary students, especially international and first-year students, with the impact of COVID-19 necessitating virtual learning for most. Aside from being challenging from a learning and motivation perspective, students have also missed out on campus life.
Students who make the most of their course tend to have a few things in common: they gain valuable industry experience while studying, think outside the square, learn to articulate their achievements and points of difference, and build professional connections. Ultimately this leads to feeling more confident when leaving university.
It’s important that you don’t wait until you’re applying for graduate roles to focus on becoming ‘job-ready’. You might be busy work assignments and exam study, so you may wish to focus on employability during the break or quieter times of the semester.
Below are five uni-run facilities that can help you boost your employability prospects while studying.
1. University careers and employment services
Aside from providing career and job search advice, university career and employment services typically run student-industry programs, seminars or webinars, workshops, and careers fairs. If you’re not studying on campus, your uni likely has an online portal where you can access these resources. This can help when applying for casual employment or graduate roles, internships, volunteering, preparing for interviews, creating a LinkedIn profile and so on. Many careers services will provide support for graduates for a year after graduation.
There are often jobs available on-campus or advertised exclusively for students at universities. This might include working at the campus café, working as a research assistant for an academic or tutoring a student.
2. Industry recruitment and student events, seminars and webinars
These events are invaluable for gathering information about career directions and opportunities with prospective employers or industries. You’ll learn different uses for your degree and get industry-specific recruitment advice. These insights are especially useful for those contemplating a change in direction or further study. Any opportunity to help at university events is great experience as well and looks good on a resume.
3. Research centers or institutes
Student involvement is usually very welcomed at university research centres or institutes. Apart from helping with your study, you’ll learn different ways to apply knowledge from your course. These centres also tend to run events where you can learn and meet alumni, academics and potential employers who are engaged in your industry.
4. Meeting different kinds of people
Take advantage of any high-profile industry speaker events run by your university (online or in-person) — you’ll have the chance to develop excellent professional connections and learn about the issues and challenges impacting your future profession, plus any current opportunities going around. Panels and speaker events are usually selected from diverse sectors and at various stages in their career.
5. Professional industry associations
There are plenty of benefits of joining an industry association as a student member and you may have the opportunity to be mentored by an industry professional. Membership is often free or at low cost for full-time students.
Helen Green is a qualified careers coach, writer, and professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia. She has over two decades’ experience working in senior education and career program management roles, particularly within the tertiary sector where she has assisted many students. She is Director of Career Confident in Melbourne.