Powerful questions business students forget to ask their career advisers

students working together

Expert advice on making the most of university support

University can change your life in many ways, but one of the most significant lies in the easy access you’ll have to qualified careers advisers.

Whichever university you choose, you can expect it to have a careers service staffed by knowledgeable professionals. These advisers can provide all sorts of help: from building your knowledge of complex industries to fine-tuning your job applications. 

With their guidance you can make informed decisions that will shape your future career path.

It’s easier to make the most of all this free support if you properly understand what’s available. We spoke to the experts at Lancaster University Management School to find out how a careers service can help business students – and what things those students commonly miss.

Start by considering your options

Any careers chat will go better if you know what you want to get from it, says Noeleen Hammond-Jones, deputy head of careers (work-related learning) at Lancaster University Management School. 

“Research potential career paths and industries first, so you can ask your adviser informed questions,” says Noeleen. 

“Keep an open mind and a willingness to explore new opportunities. Expect to receive feedback and advice, even if it challenges your initial assumptions or plans.”

With this focus on your career plans, you’re already on the right track for a productive conversation with your adviser.

Ask: how can I keep up with industry trends?

Employers have noticed a lack of commercial awareness among students looking to start careers in the business world, says Rory Daly, head of careers at Lancaster University Management School.

“Not understanding the industry, role, company values and culture, impact of geopolitical environments, or competitors can have a huge impact on your success,” says Rory. “Keeping up with trends in the fast-paced business sector is crucial.”

You can build up this knowledge while you’re still at university, giving you a headstart when it comes time to start your career.

“Ask your adviser to highlight relevant information sources, such as The Intelligence podcast from The Economist, audiobooks, journal articles and news sites, as well as industry influencers and resources like LinkedIn Learning,” says Rory.

“It’s equally important to attend campus events like career development workshops and industry insight panels. Meeting employers and alumni – people doing the job you want – builds up your knowledge and awareness.”

Ask: how can I improve my network?

As a student, building a professional network may well be something that’s new to you. But it’s a valuable tool for progressing your career and gives you a platform to seek guidance from experienced individuals such as industry professionals and academics. 

Don’t worry if the idea of networking seems overwhelming or inaccessible at first, says Tanya Parry, deputy head of careers (education and coaching) at Lancaster University Management School. This is one of the key ways in which a careers service can help you.

“Your adviser will be able to suggest a range of diverse ways of developing your network both online and in person so you feel comfortable with and can gain confidence,” says Tanya.

students working together

Ask: what will give my placement/internship application the best chance of success?

Placements and internships are excellent ways to develop extra skills during your studies, helping you stand out from other job hunters once you’ve graduated. 

Your university’s career service can guide you through crafting a strong application for any placement, as well as providing guidance on which ones to go for in the first place.

“The more you engage with your careers service for advice, the better your application’s outcome can be,” says Noeleen. 

“Advisers can provide advice on how to approach internships strategically, develop relevant skills and build a strong industry reputation.”

Ask: what will make an employer take notice of my CV and cover letter?

Your CV and cover letter are your marketing documents. These are the first things employers see and they have a huge impact on whether you are selected for an interview or not.

“Engage with your advisers and their resources to craft competitive CVs and cover letters which are tailored to the job you want,” says Tanya. 

“They will help you highlight how you meet the job description, focus on key achievements in your placements, internships and course group work and emphasise your relevant extracurricular activities, so you stand out to experienced recruiters.”

Ask: how should I prepare for an interview?

Your careers service plays a crucial part in supporting you as you prepare for an interview, through guidance, workshops and simulation interview appointments. 

“Students may overlook the need to research the company and role, practise common interview questions, and develop compelling responses that demonstrate their suitability for the position,” says Rory. 

“Careers advisers can provide feedback on performance, and share strategies for answering challenging questions effectively.”

You get out what you put in

Participation in careers service events is also critical to your future success. “You get out what you put into your career development,” says Noeleen. 

“Active involvement in the diverse range of workshops, seminars, and networking functions hosted by your career services allows you to develop knowledge, skills, and approaches to the recruitment processes of your desired industry or company.  

“Gaining hands-on experience is also essential. Broaden your skill set through internships, placements, volunteering, club or society membership or part-time jobs.“ 

Take advantage of every moment of these valuable career sessions. By asking thoughtful, considered questions you’ll be able to really benefit from your career adviser’s knowledge.

“Set clear learning objectives and seek feedback,” says Tanya. “Embrace the proactive measures your career service can provide you with and you’ll maximise your professional growth, expand your network and position yourself for success on your chosen career path.”

Our partnership with Lancaster University Management School

Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) is one of the longest-established business schools in the UK and home to a thriving and truly international community. 

We are a triple-accredited research-intensive business school that combines world-class research with excellent teaching and high levels of student satisfaction. We welcome students and staff from more than 180 countries and have a presence in 24 countries, including campuses in China, Germany, Ghana and Malaysia.  

We challenge and support our creative staff, students and partners to realise their ambitions as they experience a transformational journey that leads to real impact on whole industries, societies and economies.  

Lancaster University is among the best in the UK, and has been the top university in the northwest of England for more than a decade.

To find out more, visit the Lancaster University Management School website.