Whether you know the career you want or not, the best time to bulk up your CV is whilst you’re still at uni, regardless of what year you’re in. After you’ve graduated, you might be asked in an interview what you’ve done recently to prepare for the role and if the answer is nothing… then you’re less likely to get the role. But if you want to make a great first impression and stand out to your employers before you’re even started working for them, then here are 4 sure-fire ways to do so.
1. Volunteer (and work!) in student roles
Every semester, there’ll be a whole range of different activities you can do as a student and some of them are even paid for! On your university website, you can apply for a long list of tasks such as helping on open days, working for the student union, becoming a mentor for first years… there’s a lot more to do than most people think. You should also check your emails often, as you’ll be getting loads of helpful information about jobs on there. Not only does volunteering show you have desirable skills that employers love such as being proactive and confident, but also shows a strong work ethic. Either way – big win.
2. Talk to your career advice counsellors
Career advice counsellors exist for a reason and nowhere near enough students realise just how valuable they are. We pay over £9000 a year for university, so you might as well make the most of your money. It’s super easy to book appointments with them too; every university has a careers section on their website that’s just for us students to use. All you have to do is fill in a quick form – it’s that simple. They can give you generic advice that can be applicable for everyone or specific advice just for you, tailored to your desired career path. Experts can point you to job opportunities, graduate schemes and so much more.
3. Make your CV as best as possible.
If you ever get offered the chance to go a CV workshop (and you will), then trust me. Go to it. You have nothing to lose. This will be the first thing your employers read about you and can decide whether they even meet you, so your CV has to be as professional and effective as possible. There are also lots of resources and tips online that can help you with this (such as on our very own GradTouch website) and you should try to update it often, at least every semester or so. If there’s a particular job that you want, then think about what character traits or experience your employers might be looking for and tailor your CV to include everything that’s relevant.
4. Career fairs!
These are surprisingly fun to go to and since the pandemic, a lot of career fairs now have online options too, so there’s no excuse for not attending one. They’re also great places to network and forge helpful connections, either virtually or in person. Ask the stalls you’re interested in if there’s any experience you can have and whether it’s an actual job, free online courses, webinars or internships, there’s always something you can gain from going to a careers fair. And who knows? Your future employers might be there…
Admittedly, some of this might sound daunting, especially as life as a uni student is already stressful enough, but even if you attend just a few stalls or volunteer somewhere for only a few hours, it can still look great on your CV. As long as you make everything, you’re doing sound relevant and beneficial, then you should be in good stead for the future and you’re sure to impress your future bosses. So, regardless of whether you’re still hungover from Fresher’s Week or if you’ve just started your dissertation (if so, good luck!), try to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.
My name's Amaan Hussain and I'm currently in my final year at the University of Birmingham (UoB) studying English Lit but I'm originally from South East England. I used to be the lead editor on a student led magazine at UoB and I'm currently working in schools as a TA/Cover Supervisor with the hopes of becoming an English teacher in the future.