University is a wonderful place – a time to learn and grow, preparing yourself to work in an industry you’re passionate about.
Now working as the Director of u&u Greater Western Sydney, Steven Fulop, reflects on what he would like to know back when he was a student at UTS in Sydney.
“Critically, it’s what you do DURING university that will differentiate you from other graduates once you’re all vying for similar roles upon graduation,” shares Steven.
Let’s work backwards – graduate roles usually include the following: detailed written application, online psychometric testing, and multiple 1-on-1 or panel interviews. Students are typically assessed on academic results, work history, extra-curricular background and life experiences.
With this in mind, here are 8 things Steven wishes he was told when he was a uni student:
Tip 1: build your CV from the beginning of university
You must be conscious of what employers are looking for! Be diverse and balanced. Employers aren’t just looking at your academic results, they want well-rounded graduates who will be able to take initiative on projects whilst also collaborating in a team capacity.
Tip 2: Experience – get as much of it in your industry as you can whilst you are a university student.
If you can’t secure paid work within your industry, volunteer. Proactively reach out to companies in your industry to try and get an unpaid internship or a vacation work-experience position. Pick up the phone and ask to speak to someone in HR, or go to their head office and speak to the receptionist about who you can hand deliver your CV to that looks after recruitment and hiring.
Even if you volunteer one day per week during the semester, it’s a foot in the door! Once you get in and impress, there is always the potential to move to paid work or even the prospect of a full-time job after you graduate. You need to be proactive outside of your university practicals. Do not rely on your university – show initiative and be self-sufficient.
If you think you can graduate with no industry experience, you will really struggle to secure a great graduate role. Most of the people you will be competing against will have some relevant industry experience.
Tip 3: Take your academics seriously.
P’s may get degrees, but they don’t get the best Graduate jobs. Passes don’t really cut it anymore – all a pass shows is a willingness to accept mediocrity. How can you be happy getting nearly half the test wrong? Aim for Distinctions (or Credits, at minimum) whilst working / volunteering part-time.
Tip 4: Do as many extracurricular activities or leadership positions as you can whilst at university.
For example; student mentoring, student exchange, volunteering at charity events, debating, sports, societies. These highlight leadership skills and that you can work effectively in teams and achieve shared targets.
Tip 5: Maintain a portfolio of your work experiences, volunteering references, extracurricular activities and academic transcripts.
You will need these to attest to your skills and capability in potential graduate roles.
Tip 6: Leverage your network.
Who do you know that works in your field that can help advocate for you and help you get some experience and mentoring? Remember: it’s rarely about what you know, but who you know.
Tip 7: Have fun. Enjoy all the luxuries that university life has to offer, but always be conscious of your end game and why you are there.
Tip 8: Travel to broaden your views of the world. Employers look favourably on well-travelled and cultured graduates.
The key across your degree is balance. Keeping the above eight tips in mind will help you build an excellent CV and help you stand out from the crowd come graduation.