Applying for graduate jobs early really paid off



I had always expected to go to university and chose to study English as I had enjoyed this at ‘A’ level and wanted to continue studying. I also decided that applying to a redbrick university would improve my job chances after my degree and, although I did not have any strong career ideas at this stage, I knew that many employers took graduates regardless of their degree subject. My real interest was politics and initially I had applied to study this but then changed to English; I slightly regret this now as I still have an interest in this area.

I took a gap year before university and continued to work there during my first year holidays. At the start of the second year I began to apply for internships, successfully as it turned out, as I felt the work experience would be useful and I might even get a job out of it. At this stage, I was also very involved in extra-curricular activities especially student politics and the Students’ Union, although it was not always easy to balance this with academic work. I found this experience to be very useful, however, as it has allowed me to develop many of the skills that employers seek including leadership and team work.

During my second year, I visited the careers service and attended the careers fairs and employer presentations that they provided including ones on commercial awareness and team skills; I found these very helpful. By the time I reached my final year, I was very well organised and decided to apply for jobs before my final year began. This paid off as I was offered an interview and secured a graduate job as a management consultant with a large employer early in the final year. I was tipped off about this job by a friend who had done an internship there and I sought help from the careers service and her family and friends. The latter were particularly helpful in helping me to decide whether to take the job, pursue a Masters that I had applied for as a sort of insurance policy, or maybe even apply for an unpaid internship.

I am enjoying the challenges of my new job and the chance to learn new skills. I am very happy but undecided about my long-term future as I would still like to enter a career related to my political interests. I feel that I should, perhaps, have contacted smaller employers whilst at university, such as charities or NGOs, to check out the opportunities with them. Following my success, however, I would advise all students to get involved in extra-curricular activities to help them to learn new skills and develop themselves personally, and would recommend that they use all the services provided by their university, especially the careers service.