Getting ready for final year – 3 things you can do now towards your career

If you’re just about to start your final year and you’d like to get something sorted career-wise by the time you graduate, you might think there isn’t really much you can do at this stage, but there certainly is. You’ll be so busy with academic work once the semester starts it’s easy to let the first semester slide by without thinking about your career after graduation, and yet that’s a key time for job applications. So to make sure you don’t miss out on valuable opportunities, here are three suggestions for things you can do now to get prepared:

  1. Research your career options. If you’re not sure what you want to do and need some help, use the last few weeks of the vacation to do some careers research to try to get a bit more focussed. See our Explore your Options pages of the careers website and download our Self Awareness and I Don’t Know What I Want To Do booklets. If you think you’d find it useful to talk to someone about your plans (even if it’s because you don’t have any yet!) you might want to book a guidance appointment with one of our careers consultants. Get in as quick as possible though, as we sometimes book up a couple of weeks or more in advance, and October is always our busiest month, so we may have more limited availability during that time.
  2. Draw up a list of organisations to target, check their recruitment timetables and apply early! If you already know what sort of job you want, start to identify specific employers to target. You can find out some good lists of employers for different sectors on graduate job sites like www.prospects.ac.uk, www.targetjobs.co.uk and www.insidecareers.co.uk. Then go directly to the employers’ websites and see if you can find out when applications open for their graduate jobs starting in September 2012. Get those dates in your diary. Believe it or not, some 2012 schemes, (e.g. some of the accountancy firms and banks) are already open now for applications and have been for a month or two now. In fact, we’ve heard that Teach First 2012 scheme is almost full for some Humanities subjects, so get in quick if you’re interested in that. In general, our advice is to apply as early as possible when schemes open for applications – recruiters don’t tend to wait for their advertised closing dates before starting to recruit candidates, and it’s often a case of “when it’s full it’s full”. It is worth bearing in mind though that these graduate schemes with large organisations only represent a small percentage of  jobs that graduates go on to do. There are lots of other really interesting and challenging graduate jobs out there. More on alternatives to grad schemes in future blog posts, but why not check out our vacancies on CareersLink to get a flavour of the jobs we’re advertising right now for Manchester graduates.
  3. Take a hard look at your CV. If you don’t yet have a CV, now’s the time to start thinking about putting one together. Take a look at our Writing a Great CV from Scratch guide for advice and tips and to see some examples. Do you have good evidence of the sorts of skills employers tend to look for, e.g. teamwork, communication, organisation and problem solving? If you’ve had a position of responsibility in a student society or sports group or done some volunteering, organised an event or had a part-time or summer job, make sure you include these experiences on your CV and explain how they have enhanced your skills. Do you have any relevant work experience for the areas of work you might be applying for? If not, try to find out how important this is for the jobs and organisations you’re targeting. Sometimes, even a day or two of work shadowing will help (see previous blog post) and you might be able to squeeze something in even in your final year. Otherwise, you might want to consider doing a graduate internship when you finish your degree to boost your employability.
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