If you’re about to start your final year at university, it can be an exciting – and potentially daunting – time. However you feel about it, the year is likely to fly by. Here are 3 key things we would encourage you to do this year to ensure a successful future – whatever you want that to be!
Getting some clarity in your interests and goals is really valuable. You do not need to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life – in all likelihood this will change throughout your working life – focus instead on what next after university.
Talk to people, attend events, explore what’s out there. Our Autumn Fair is a fantastic opportunity to do this, but keep an eye out for all the other events – university-wide as well as things happening in your school or faculty. These can give you invaluable insights into a whole range of careers.
What do other people of your discipline go on to do?
Some examples of what other graduates of your discipline have gone on to do are available on our website. You can also use the Leeds Network to search alumni profiles and – in most cases – contact them. The LinkedIn alumni tool is also a great resource to explore this.
If you are planning on applying for graduate schemes you need to apply early – many are already open. If you are hoping to go straight into work after university, graduate schemes are one option, but not the only option.
Most graduates get jobs outside of these schemes – for example with smaller organisations (or even in direct entry roles with large organisations), in the public sector, the third sector and with all sorts of other organisations. Opportunities outside of large graduate schemes aren’t as ‘obvious’ but this doesn’t mean they aren’t there – you just need to look and be a bit more proactive. We can help with this, talk to us to find out how.
If you are planning on further study – with the exception of some specific professional courses such as medicine, dentistry, teaching, law and others – there are often not set closing dates. You will generally have to apply directly to the institution for something like a Masters or PhD. Popular courses and/or institutions will fill up more quickly so even if a closing date is not until next July, it is worth applying early.
Talk to us
We have a team of professionally qualified Career Consultants who you can see for career guidance. Whether this be for help trying to identify potential careers of interest, narrowing down options, deciding between work, further study, or anything else, we are here to help you. We will not make decisions for you, but will work with you to help you get to where you want to be. We – and our Career Advisers – can also help you with all stages of application processes. There are a number of Specialist Careers Consultants linked to each Faculty who you can book an appointment with online. You can also book appointments for more general things with our Careers Advisers, or use the drop in service.
Talk to everyone!
I hesitate to use the word “networking” as this puts lots of people off. However this just means talking to people. Take advantage of everything that is available to you on campus to meet and talk to a range of people – whether this be recruiters, alumni, tutors, careers staff, fellow students or anyone else.
The Careers Centre and your school or faculty both provide loads of opportunities for this. Try to attend as many events or information sessions as possible, particularly if you do not know what you want to do after university.
In addition to this, being proactive will really help you. For example, think about how you can start to develop your own contacts and explore what other graduates have gone on to do (see resources in part 1 above).
If you aren’t seeing events or opportunities relevant to your interests, how else can you find out about these? Arranging informational interviews are one great way to do this. We can also help you with tips and suggestions for other ways to go about exploring your interests.
Assess yourself as a potential applicant
Whatever your interests or ambitions of what you do after university, assess yourself as a potential applicant. Do you feel that you are a strong applicant? If not, consider how else you can develop or further enhance your skills and experience over the coming months – there is still time.
Workplace experience – particularly if relevant – is a particular advantage but any other way you can develop your skills is an advantage. Think about ways or opportunities which will allow you to take responsibility for things – or an aspect of a project for example – and enable you to demonstrate impact. There is still time!
Getting involved in clubs or societies is a great start and over time aiming for a position of responsibility in a club or society. This does not have to be on the committee, but taking responsibility for a certain aspect – e.g. organizing a particular event, marketing it, helping raise funds etc. can all enable you to demonstrate impact.
Leeds for Life advertises hundreds of volunteering opportunities. Opportunities are advertised with all sorts of organisations and you can search by skills, so if you feel lacking in examples of particular skills, this can be a really easy way to address it.
In addition, LUU has various student-led volunteering societies and community projects.
Application & interview support
Take advantage of the support for applications, interviews etc., particularly if you do not have much experience of doing these before – there is more to them than you think.
There is lots of information and advice about all of these on our website and we can check applications etc. for you as well as giving mock interviews (in-person, telephone and mock video interviews). You can book appointments online.
We are here to help and support you with all stages of your career planning. Talk to us to find out how we can help you.