Careers fairs provide a great opportunity to talk to employers
I was the first in my family to go to university but went without any specific career ideas in mind. I chose to study Politics and Philosophy with an interest of working in the public sector. When deciding which university to attend I considered which ones had good employability centres and had regular careers fairs, but at that age wasn’t really thinking about the impact my decision would have on my career. I discussed my ideas with really supportive people from college and had weekly meetings about applications.
When at university I took a proactive approach by getting heavily involved in a range of activities. I was a member of a student society and believe they are very underrated because it’s like work experience but you have a lot more control and it helps people who are interested in leadership roles. Working at the society was hard to balance with my academic work as these sorts of volunteer roles are very intense. I also had a job at the careers centre after visiting it so regularly.
In particular I went to the careers centre at the end of my second year when I began to consider graduate schemes. I went saying that I didn’t know what I wanted to do and found them really helpful as they supplied me with a lot of material about applying for graduate schemes. I also went to a number of careers fairs to develop an understanding of the job market and was able to talk to employers which you don’t get the opportunity to do very often.
Despite this, I didn’t understand the difference between a graduate and a non-graduate job and believe that my university should have provided sessions on the makeup of the job market. I was confident enough to apply for jobs in my final year, and applied for all the jobs that I was interested in, focusing on the charity sector after developing an interest in this work through volunteering.
A few months after graduating I obtained a job within this sector as a Partnership Fundraiser which I am very much enjoying. I took an active approach in searching for jobs by visiting the job centre and creating a massive spreadsheet of all the jobs that were out there. I believe that the activities I got involved in at university helped to secure this position although it isn’t the type of job I expected to be in when starting university.
I wish that I had known more about the job market going into university and would advise current students not to feel too pressured and to get involved with the careers centre and the students’ union because employers appreciate this experience. Thinking about the future, I am considering going back into education to study for a Masters degree and hope eventually to work in the public sector.
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