Abdul Awke is a Leeds Chemical Engineering MSc graduate, and now works as an Employability and Progression Assistant at the Careers Centre where he helps final-year students with their career plans. Before starting here he admits he did nothing to help his chances of success after graduating, and here he shares 5 things he wishes he’d known during his studies…..
1. Commercial awareness
Commercial awareness is an understanding of how industries and businesses work, about knowing what’s going on in the world, and analysing the ways it might impact on your chosen sector and company. Understanding how your individual role fits within an organisation’s goals will help you judge whether a role’s right for you, and increase your chances of success, and as it’s relevant for all applications you’ll be completing it’s probably one of the most vital skills you can start developing in your final year!
2. Societies & Volunteering
Try to take part in more societies and volunteering opportunities in your final year at university! When it comes to job applications, having a good amount of society and volunteering experience can really help your CV look stronger, and can also help you in the interview stages. While academic experience is important, employers love to see that their candidates can pick up skills like leadership, teamwork and communication outside of university work too.
As a final year student, you’ll have a number of opportunities to build up useful networks during your studies. A large number of free careers fairs, events and workshops are hosted by the university, some of which specifically targeted towards final year students. These opportunities offer a really good chance to interact with employers that can offer you an insight into graduate jobs, and sometimes even a direct route in! Social media like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook can also be used to help expand your job search
Final year is also the last chance you have to make the most out of the contacts from your course and wider university network. People you meet through your course and extracurricular activities will have many things in common with you, and sharing your career plans, what you’ve learnt and your experiences may help you, so stay in touch with as many people as possible!
4. Tailored applications
While I was a student I greatly underestimated the importance of not only producing a great CV and cover letter, but also thoroughly researching the company you are applying to, so that you can tailor your application deliberately and specifically to the job/person specification. Employers will know immediately if you have sent them a generic, one-size-fits-all CV, and usually this isn’t enough to get you an interview. I didn’t realise this, and struggled to get past the application stages as a result!
5. Utilising the Careers service
I think this point is one I can’t stress enough, and not just because they pay my wages now!
I hadn’t realised how useful the many facilities the careers service has to offer are, and how much of a difference accessing these during my degree could have made. The services available include things like; getting help with CVs and cover letters, advice on psychometric tests, practicing face-to-face interviews and assessment centres, advice on volunteering and placements, or failing all that just having a general chat!