By Helen Green
2020 has been tough for tertiary students, especially first-year students, with the impact of COVID-19 necessitating virtual learning for most. Aside from being challenging from a learning and motivation perspective, students have also missed out on campus life.
Students who make the most of their degree tend to gain valuable industry experience while studying, think outside the square, articulate their achievements and points of difference, build professional connections and ultimately, feel more confident when leaving university.
It’s important that students don’t wait until they are applying for graduate roles to focus on becoming ‘work-ready’. Below are five on-campus facilities that can help students boost their employability prospects while at uni.
1. Careers and employment services
Aside from providing career and job search advice, careers and employment services typically run student-industry programs, seminars/webinars, industry events, workshops, careers fairs and so on. These resources can help students when applying for casual employment or graduate roles, internships, volunteering, preparing for interviews, creating a LinkedIn profile and so on. Many university careers services also provide careers support to graduates for a year post-graduation.
There are often jobs available on campus or advertised exclusively for students at universities. This might include working at a campus cafe, being a research assistant for an academic or tutoring a student.
2. Alumni/student events and industry recruitment functions
These events are valuable fact-finding missions about career directions and opportunities with specific prospective employers. Students will be exposed to different pathways to use their degree, and gain industry-specific recruitment advice. These insights are especially useful for those contemplating a change in direction or further study. Any opportunity to help at university events is great experience and looks good on a resume.
3. Research centres or institutes
Student involvement is usually very welcomed at university research centres or institutes. Apart from helping with study, they will learn different ways to apply knowledge from their degree. These centres also run events where you can learn and meet university alumni, academics and potential employers who are engaged in your field of interest.
You can join mailing lists at other universities too — one of my clients recently scored a role working on a cutting-edge engineering project being run through a pilot research project on campus, simply by turning up to a briefing and showing interest.
4. Meeting different kinds of people
Having organised many high-profile industry speakers over the years for student events, I know how students can benefit, develop terrific professional connections, and learn about key issues impacting professions, along with current challenges and opportunities. Panels and speaker events are typically selected from diverse sectors and at various stages in their career. Nothing beats a one-on-one conversation after the event.
5. Professional industry associations
Whether you learn about professional associations related to your course on campus or not, they are worth looking into. The benefits of joining an industry association as a student member are many and may include an opportunity to be mentored by an industry professional. Membership is often free or at low cost for full-time students.
Helen Green is a qualified careers coach, writer, and professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia. She has over two decades’ experience working in senior education and career program management roles, particularly within the tertiary sector where she has assisted many students. She is Director of Career Confident in Melbourne.