How to get the best out of your Uni careers service
I want to help you to get the most out of your Uni careers service. University careers services are not just there to help you find a job at the end of your degree. They provide a wealth of information and services to help you along your career path, right from when you start out at Uni and begin thinking about where your degree might lead, to after you graduate.
I’ve spent time as a Uni Careers Adviser, helping students and graduates in developing career management skills, and providing practical career advice.
The most obvious assistance provided by Uni careers services is with all of the practical things you might expect, such as:
- analysing job ads
- researching potential employers
- writing job applications or selection criteria (often used for public sector and government roles)
- crafting your resumé
- developing a LinkedIn profile
- advice on presenting yourself at interviews
- role playing for interviews
- understanding how psychometric assessments and assessment centres work.
This assistance is usually provided through a combination of one-on-one consultations, seminars and workshops, and online resources. Most careers services have their own websites, and you should look at your Uni’s main website to find the careers area or website as early in your degree as possible. Events and seminars will usually be listed in a program at the start of each semester. Individual consultations with Careers Advisers usually last for between 20 and 30 minutes, and can be booked online.
Make the most of individual consultations
In order to make the most of a short 20-30 minute consultation, it is imperative that you know what your objective is. State it clearly to the Adviser at the beginning of the session, and make sure you have all of your accompanying documentation or resources with you – this might be a printed out copy of your draft CV they can write notes on, a list of the questions required to complete an online job application, or your laptop if you want to work on your LinkedIn profile.
Sometimes all of your queries won’t be resolved in one session – the Adviser might suggest, for example, that you do another draft of your resumé and book another consultation. The great thing is that you can usually have multiple consultations, though this may be limited to one per week.
So if you make your appointments well ahead of when you need the outcome of the advice (and not the day before your job application is due!) you’ll be well placed to make the most of the services on offer.
If you need broader assistance with career planning generally, Uni careers advisers are generally also able to help. Offerings in this area vary between institutions, but may include:
- helping you understand your strengths, likes and best attributes;
- understanding the world or work, and the range of options that might be available at the conclusion of your study; and
- alignment of study choices and career options.
This is another area where services vary, and it’s well worth looking at what might be on offer on your campus. Many Unis run competitions, which help you develop employability skills such as teamwork and critical thinking. Some even run internal development programs which include paid internships, or other programs to help develop skills such as leadership and problem solving.
Both competitions and internal development programs usually require you to go through an application, interviewing and acceptance process, and are highly sought after by students as a way to develop skills and awards to put onto their resumés.
Networking and introductions
One of the most powerful resources that a Uni’s careers service may give you access to is networking events. These usually take a number of forms, which may include:
- Careers expos
- ‘Meet the Employers’ events or days
- various Alumni networks.
The importance of these networking events can’t be underestimated.
Employers often use Uni events such as careers fairs or industry discovery sessions not only to showcase their company and what they have to offer, but also to meet prospective employees. Attending these events will give you the inside view on what companies will expect you to know about them, to help you stand out from other applicants once you start applying for internships or attending job interviews.
Many careers services also tap into Uni alumni networks, often specific to your faculty or to a particular industry. Alumni events give you the opportunity to meet graduates working in careers that interest you, and can help you to understand the range of possible options that might be available to you after graduation. You may even get the opportunity to shadow someone in their workplace or to set up an internship through discussions with someone in the alumni network.
A tip from an expert
Sam Berry, Career Development Manager at UTS in Sydney, has a wealth of experience in career advice for Uni students and graduates. Sam’s tip – “Connect with your Careers service early in your degree – even if it’s just to pop into the office, follow them on social media or attend a couple of events. It will help you to understand how they can assist and give you the awareness and confidence to engage in career development activities throughout your studies.”
Uni careers services provide expert, tailored advice to help you navigate the early stages of your career while at Uni, build employability skills, and to find rewarding and fulfilling work or further study after you graduate. Make the most of their professional expertise, experience in the world of work, and all of the practical resources on offer.