It is not uncommon to hear students with a humanities degree state that their subjects do not advance their prospects in the graduate job market. Thus, I was concerned about the opportunities that would be available to me after I completed my degree in Theology. As a response, I started a Master’s degree in Religious Studies, because I was aware that gaining an advanced degree could boost my employability prospects. However, I was unsure about what I could do to make me into a strong candidate. Indeed, the notion that a degree is enough to get a job is simply not true in the current economic climate. Graduates should ideally have additional experience and qualifications if they want to be strong candidates in the competitive graduate job market. However, there is a wealth of skills developed in the undergraduate process.
With this in mind, what can a student do to prepare whist they are at University to maximise their employment opportunities? Firstly, undertaking a humanities degree helps students to develop interpersonal skills, being competent with MS office and being able to work independently with large amounts of academic materials. Indeed, students in their final year undertake a dissertation module where they develop substantial interpersonal qualities in areas such as “… perseverance, self-motivation, independent study, initiative and critical thinking”. Such skills are desirable to employers because businesses desire humanities graduates to ensure that they have a successful workforce. Secondly, Careers and Employability at the University of Chester has a range of courses and internships which are designed to equip students and recent alumni to be more employable. For example, I recently undertook the Graduate Head Start programme, a three day course with the primary purpose being to develop skills which would be attractive to employers in the graduate labour market. Subsequently, I was offered an eight week placement in Careers and Employability as a Clerical Assistant to the Graduate Futures team. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far and there is a lot to get involved in, no day is the same! A component of the programme that I have particularly enjoyed was that the tutors encouraged students to carry out a placement in a specific sector of interest, so that they can try out the role to determine if that career might be for them. Here are some of the activities that I have been involved in so far:
- assisting the Graduate Futures team with co-ordinating the Chester Difference Award and Volunteer Celebration Evening
- carrying out clerical responsibilities associated with the Chester Employability Fund application process
- contributing to the Careers and Employability blog
- shadowing various staff members within the department to gain a broader understanding of the services and support available to students.
I am confident that the GHS programme will equip me with the skills to enable me to become a competent candidate in the future. For more information about the Graduate Head Start programme and any other services available, visit http://www.chester.ac.uk/careers.
 This quote was retrieved on the 01st April 2015 from http://www.theguardian.com/careers/graduate-view-why-a-dissertation-can-boost-your-employability