King’s College London graduate Sofia Kebede on the five steps you can take this term to get you closer to your dream job .
It’s the beginning of a new academic year and the perfect time to start working towards securing your dream grad job. Alongside top grades, securing your dream job requires a little extra effort outside your academics, as well as plenty of persistence. As such, we’ve devised a 5-step guide for the first term of university to help you bring you closer to your career aspirations. 1. Join a society
Being actively involved in a society, ideally with a position of responsibility, speaks volumes to employers about your capabilities. The skills demonstrated from such experiences are endless: time management, communication, teamwork, initiative, organisation and leadership are just a few. Employers in The City in particular look for any extracurricular activities that show leadership and a competitive edge, whether you’re on the committee of the investment society or the captain of a sports club. Better yet, start your own society and showcase your entrepreneurial flare! All of these attributes will set you apart from the competition during the application process. What’s more, the benefits of joining a society go beyond career-related goals as it’s also a great way to build a network with those who share common interests! 2. Polish your CV
Your CV is your first point-of-contact with employers, so it’s essential to make a good first impression. An unpolished CV represents an unpolished candidate; academic achievements and experiences are important, but so is the way you present them, so ensure that the overall presentation of your CV reflects you as an individual! Remember, this is your chance to sell yourself! Consistency is key, so using the same clear, elegant formatting throughout is a simple way to make the recruiter’s job a little easier when he or she is reading your CV. As a large proportion of recruiters reject unrefined CVs at face value, make sure the little things don’t trip you up at the first hurdle. And, most importantly, proofread, proofread and proofread again. [Be sure to keep up-to-date with the WCAN blog for more tips on how to improve your CV!] 3. Visit your university’s careers centre
Most students make their way through university life without visiting the careers centre until those last few months of frantic job-hunting in final year. This needs to change. Careers centres are one of the most valuable resources you can exploit whilst at uni (and sometimes even a year afterwards), as they represent a world of expert advice and connections. Alongside consultations and informal chats with careers counsellors, many also offer a range of tailored support, from one-to-one sessions for CVs to assessment centre practice to mock interviews. Make it a task to book a consultation with your careers centre, no matter what year you’re in, by the end of the week! 4. Network – and then follow up!
One of the most rewarding career decisions you can make as a student is to build a network while you’re still at university. Most universities offer plenty of opportunities to network with recruiters, whether at careers fairs or via societies, while organisations such as WCAN regularly put students in contact with top companies at their events. Nowadays, the most connected candidates can utilise their personal networks as a reference when applying for roles - these contacts can vouch for your competencies, support your application and, in some cases, ensure you’re even fast-tracked! However, a lot of people forget that following-up after events is the key to successful ‘networking’. A business card from someone you met a couple of months ago is not sufficient – chances are the individual will not remember you. Therefore, don’t view networking as a one-way route: drop them an email a day or two after the event, add them on LinkedIn, invite them to coffee and come armed with intelligent questions. At the event itself, make sure to work the room and don’t be afraid to approach the person you’re interested in speaking to – you never know where your contacts might take you! Networking is a great way to practice your social skills, and like most things, it becomes easier with practice!
5. Secure a placement All the above can help you with the final step: securing a vacation scheme, internship or spring week. Internships are your gateway to a full-time contract when done right! Off-cycle internships are increasingly used as a means of enrolling full-time candidates – according to efinancialcareers.com, ‘80% (or more) of the people who get hired as full time analysts will previously have worked for that bank as summer interns’. These internships can help you understand which career you should pursue after graduating and put you on the right track to achieving it!
Sofia Kebede is a recent graduate of King’s College London (International Politics), where she was also the European editor of the King’s Think Tank Journal. She’s currently spending a year out to gain some work experience and plans to eventually pursue a Master’s.