If you do one thing during your first year……

Since the start of Freshers’ Week, it’s possible you’ve joined a dozen clubs and societies, been to more pubs than you thought possible in one night, are Snapchatting with people you hadn’t even met three weeks ago, and you’ve started attending your lectures. So your career is, like, the last thing you’re going to think about this week, right?

Wrong!

Firstly, welcome to Chester! I think everyone who’s studied at university has their own really fond memories of Freshers’ Week. It’s usually a mad, frantic rush to settle in, get to know your uni, make friends and learn your way around campus and town.

So after all that excitement, it’s probably hard enough to focus on the studies you’ve just started. And it’s even less likely that you’ll be thinking now about where your degree is going to lead. You might be studying something that points towards a specific career, like social work or journalism or sport and exercise sciences. Or you might be studying something that is all about pure love of subject, like languages or English or music. Either way, the end of your degree is at least three years away, and it’s probably quite hard to imagine what you might actually end up doing afterwards.

You don’t need to know yet, and no one would be surprised if you didn’t have a clue, even if you’re doing a degree that does point towards a particular career. You’re hopefully here studying something just because you’re really interested in it.

Want a top tip?

Employers are most interested in people who have a wide range of experiences that complement their university study, and have taken the trouble to try new things and develop new skills.

So whether you’ve got the next ten years planned out or can’t even think ten minutes ahead, don’t let this year fly by without taking on some activities that can help you plan and build towards a good job after university.

Hey you! How to get an employer’s attention!

Whether it’s helping run a student club or society, getting a part time job, volunteering, or taking on one of the many roles within the university community, everything you do will help make you more attractive to an employer, especially if you can explain what you got out of doing it: skills, knowledge, insight into a particular type of job or responsiblity. And if you don’t do anything, an employer isn’t even going to wonder “Why?” before they move on to look at someone else’s CV.

Did you know?

The other thing to think about is that many employers now look at first year/Level 4 students as potential recruits after graduation. Lots of the big companies in sectors like law, finance, engineering, retail and business offer amazing insight experiences for a day or a week in the first year, and longer paid internships in the summer, and they keep a note of who has applied. If they like you, they might even offer you a permanent graduate job after you work for them again in your second year summer holiday. It can really happen that quickly!

These are all little pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, but all the different things you take the trouble to do say a lot to an employer about your enthusiasm for building towards your future. At Careers & Employability, we can help you work out how to choose the right activities for you, and if you take a look at our website, you can see just how many different opportunities we offer – from Unijob and Work Shadowing to the Chester Difference Award and Venture entrepreneurship. Come into our centres at Chester and Warrington campuses, visit our website, and get in touch at careers if you want to talk to someone about all the possibilities.

So, if you do one thing this year (other than work hard on your studies) …. Do Something for your Future!

Kate Daubney is the Director of Careers & Employability, and remembers her Freshers’ Week at Leeds University in 1987 for the smell of spilled beer and baked beans in the Student Union basement.

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