Starting your second academic year is an exciting time – you’re no longer a fresher, you feel more at home at university; however it can be potentially daunting as you have to make some important decisions that can have a great impact on your career prospects. Here’s 3 things you can do to make the most out of your second year:
Research your options
It’s best to start researching your options early and plan your time according to the options that seem best fitted to you. Because there are so many opportunities for second years, (placement, year abroad/in industry, summer internships, vacation schemes, part time work) you could easily become overwhelmed. Doing a bit of research on these options will help you get a head start and a better understanding of what’s out there for you. Getting experience that is relevant to your degree or chosen career is better, but any experience will help you develop your skills and aid your future decisions. Checking the Careers Centre website, MyCareer and Joblink is a good place to start, and if you have further questions you can always come by the Careers Centre and attend a drop in session for additional guidance.
Manage your time well
Lengthy application processes are involved in all of the aforementioned opportunities for second years, which is why it’s important to plan and time-manage efficiently. Most employers target second year students when they advertise internships and summer placements – if you go to the MyCareer website, there will be an overwhelming amount of advertised positions. Developing a time-frame and outlining a job search strategy will facilitate your application process and make your goals clearer and easier to achieve.
If you’ve checked what’s advertised and you feel there are better options for you out there, make sure you pursue them. Approach companies that have attracted you and show your enthusiasm and genuine interest in working for them. Shadowing can also be a great option to get a feel of how your chosen area in a company operates. You can come to the Careers Centre for support with this, and read the “How I got my job” series on the Careers Blog to hear other students’ job hunting experiences.
2.Develop your skills
Work experience is only one of the ways you can develop your skills and enhance your CV. The University offers a wide variety of opportunities you can get involved in, both on and off campus, which you can tailor to your own interests and schedule.
LUU and Societies
Leeds University Union offers over 300 clubs and societies, so there’s bound to be something for you. In case you don’t find anything, however, and you have an idea for something that’s not listed, you could always easily set up your own club or society. Aiming for a position of responsibility in a society is always a great way to enhance your CV while doing something you enjoy – it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the committee, as long as you are involved in the organisation of an event or activity.
The Volunteering Hub is the place you can search for volunteer work opportunities in Leeds. The benefit of taking up volunteering is that most organisations allow you to be as involved as you want – this means you can work around your schedule and still get the most out of this experience. You can check the Volunteering Hub for vacancies and our blog‘s volunteering tag to see how it has helped other students.
Students also have the opportunity to assist on events and promote the University to prospective students as Student Ambassadors. This position incorporates a variety of activities and is one of the best chances to get paid experience that is offered by the University. There are different opportunities across the faculties, so make sure you check with your faculty and Joblink for more information.
3.Talk to people & Build connections
Talk to everyone
The University offers numerous opportunities to connect and talk to a range of people, build relationships and consult different perspectives. It may seem intimidating at first, but once you build up the confidence to start, you’ll find that talking to people is an invaluable chance to build your own contacts and enhance your communication skills.
Events, faculty talks and fairs
If you go to the MyCareer website, you’ll find a wide variety of events, workshops and talks you can attend on campus. Companies often offer workshops on campus – this is a chance to network with employees of a company you’re interested in. Faculty societies also organise networking dinners or employer events, which are a great chance to meet like minded people from different backgrounds – be it students, alumni, professionals or academic staff.
Fairs are also a great opportunity to talk to potential employers and current interns. A big number of employers of different sizes and sectors attend fairs, which means you can familiarize yourself with as many companies as you want, hear current interns’ experiences, get some useful pointers for your application, and of course build up your network.
Speaking of networking, if you want to know what alumni from your area of study are up to, you can check the Leeds Network. It gives you many options to search the database of Leeds alumni, and to approach them for advice or guidance in your chosen area.
Make sure you are on LinkedIn
With social media becoming increasingly important in job search today, it’s important that you make sure you’re making the most out of your online presence. LinkedIn is a great place to start – if you don’t have a profile, spare some time to create one (there’s an easy guide on how to do that in our LinkedIn blog series). If you already have a profile, try to keep it as professional and informative as possible.
LinkedIn allows you to build your network, and directly approach your contacts, so make sure you take advantage of that option. LinkedIn InMail is one way you can approach contacts from your area of interest to arrange informative interviews. These are a good way to explore your filed of interest and build relationships that may help you in the future. LinkedIn is not the only gateway to informative interviews – you can read through the informative interview guide if that sound like something you want to pursue.