How to use your student life to get ready for a great graduate role

Naturally, when it comes to landing a graduate job your degree – and the skills it taught you – can play a big part. But just as your lectures are only one bit of your student life, so your degree is just one of the things that can prepare you for your career. There are many other things you can do to get yourself ready, all while enjoying your student life. 


Get some work experience

Any kind of work experience will help when it comes to putting together your CV, as it shows initiative and a willingness to get yourself out into the job market. Your part time shop role counts, as does spending time on an industry placement. 

Andrew Moore believes the work experience he did while studying law helped secure a management job at Aldi. “During my degree, I worked in a pro-bono law office, and I had my own clients and caseloads,” he says. “This meant that I had to become organised quickly and be comfortable working with a range of people, which certainly helps as an Area Manager.” 

Your uni will often be able to give advice on arranging work experience, so check online – and don't forget to pick up tips from our forums 

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Join a sports team

There are many benefits to joining a sports team as a student. Universities often have great facilities and you'll be able to fit training around your studies, meet new people and stay fit. It's also great for developing teamwork and leadership skills, which employers always want to see in their graduate recruits.

“My sporting experience, particularly rugby, and the skills that I have acquired such as motivation, leadership and decision-making helped me stand out during the application process,” says Isobel Giles, who used those skills to begin training as an area manager with Aldi. 

If sport isn't your thing, never fear – there are lots of other ways to get the same benefits. Joining uni societies is a great one (and they cover everything from gin appreciation to World of Warcraft, sometimes at the same time), as is getting involved in voluntary work in your spare time. 

Attend careers fairs

A careers fair is a great way to find out about the different opportunities available for graduates, with lots of employers all out talent spotting under one roof. Andrew found out about the Aldi opportunity at a careers fair, for example.

Keep in touch with your uni's careers service to find out about imminent careers fair action. Be prepared: have a look at who might be there, think about the questions you'd like to ask, take some copies of your CV with you (check out our CV tips first) and dress smartly. Don't head there straight from your Gin and Warcraft session, you'll only try to hug recruiters because you think they look like friendly Orcs. 

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Learn to juggle your responsibilities

Once you're in your shiny new graduate role you'll be expected to multitask, as Isobel explains. “My days are varied depending on which area of the business I’m training in. You spend plenty of time on the shop-floor, dealing with sales, staff rota, deliveries and personnel issues. At the same time, you need to ensure that you look at the bigger picture so that all of your stores are running effectively.” 

Sounds busy, but happily your student life helps you prepare almost from day one, if you let it. Balancing your lectures, tutorials, deadlines, workshops and other degree shenanigans with other things, from sports or society events to getting the shopping in with your flatmates, demands organisation. Start working on your time management, get your diary (or app, or whatever works for you) in line and you'll quickly become a master of time management without even noticing.

Embrace your hobbies

Finally, be sure to enjoy yourself and make some time for the things you love. Your student life is an opportunity to really throw yourself into your hobbies, from music to metalwork, so get involved – you'll be a happier person for it, and as a handy side-effect you'll make yourself more employable too. 

Employers want people, not degree machines, after all, as Ruth Doyle, Regional Managing Director at Aldi, explains: “We’re looking for candidates who can offer something beyond academic achievements. Strong personalities, work experience, hobbies and leading teams at university are key strengths.”

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