Lockdown blog: think about employability from day one of your degree

In this lockdown blog Make Happen collaborative outreach officer Hannah Mead explains why it’s important to think about your future employability from day one of your degree. 

Securing a place at university is a fantastic achievement. You know that you’ll need to study hard to get a good degree, but you might still be questioning what you’d like to do after university with your degree, or how you’re going to secure your first graduate job once you complete your studies?

All of these questions are important! I remember during my first week as a first-year undergraduate student, attending an employability workshop where it was stressed that a degree is no longer enough. To be truthful, this made me worry – I thought that by gaining a degree, this would automatically fast track me to ‘standing out from the crowd.’ The reality is, that once you graduate from university, you’re actually competing with quite a number graduates who are also applying for the same graduate schemes, or jobs that you’re interested in.

job interview

Therefore, it’s really important that you start thinking about employability from day one.

You’re lucky, the vast majority of universities offer ways that you can boost your employability and they also have dedicated employability and careers teams on-campus where you can book a one-to-one chat with a careers advisor to talk through your options.

When I was a student, I acted as a peer mentor, volunteered for an on-campus charity and also worked part-time for the student union. All of these opportunities enabled me to build a CV where I could highlight my skills and strengths to employers, without just relying on my degree to sell itself. I also gained a greater sense of knowing what I wanted to do in my career – which was to work with younger people, deliver and present and make some kind of difference.

You might be thinking, “but how will I have time to fit this all in alongside my studies?” Trust me, you’ll have time. You’ll be surprised by how much free time you have when you’re at university. Of course, put in your studying, coursework, revision and reading time first, but the time that you have left that hasn’t been allocated, think smartly about how you can use it to the best of your advantage.

So remember, working hard and achieving your degree is important. But if you want to make stand out in a competitive labour market, seek out opportunities that will enhance your employability.

"Working hard and achieving your degree is important. But if you want to make stand out in a competitive labour market, seek out opportunities that will enhance your employability."