Eight ways to get ahead of the job pack before you even start uni

student walking

How to make yourself employable while you're still studying

It’s never too soon to start preparing for life after university - even when you're still at school.

Stats from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that more than 500,000 full-time students graduate from UK universities each year, so you'll need more than a top notch degree to nail down a job once you finish your course.

Employers are looking for people with a wide range of interests and experience. So start thinking now about how you can stand out; it will mean you're ahead of the pack when it comes time for job hunting.

1. Do your research

It’s easy to put off planning for the future. When you've got a heavy workload at school or college, it can be tough to find the motivation to do anything more beyond keeping on top of the work for your course.

But when you're choosing a university, it's smart to think first about the career you want to go into

A little extra-curricular time looking at potential career paths could help you set achievable goals from the off - which will save you time and energy in the long run.

2. Create a CV

You might not even need a CV just yet, but it's still a good idea to start writing yours now.

Whatever your career plans, at some point you’ll need a written document which lists your achievements.

There’s lots of advice out there which can help you create a killer CV, even if you think you may lack the necessary achievements.

It will also highlight any gaps which you can then fill - so that by the time you’re ready to apply for your dream job, you’ll be in the best possible place to secure an interview.

students laughing together

3. Learn new skills

Ever heard the saying that every day is a school day? Even when you're not doing your school or college work, you can still be learning.

Use your free time to pick up a new skill. From learning a musical instrument to teaching yourself code, starting a blog to picking up Spanish for beginners, the world is your oyster.

But deciding on what new skills to learn can sometimes be difficult.

As annablagg suggests: “Focus on the skill set you already have and try to gain experience in the things you may be lacking and think what will be useful in the job market.”

4. Apply for an internship or work experience

Future employers love to see a potential recruit has put in the hard yards before applying for a job.

A recent UCAS survey showed two-thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps them prepare for work and develop general business awareness.

In some areas, like healthcare or law, placements are essential. But even areas where it is not, securing a good internship at a respectable organisation in your chosen field will be extremely competitive. So the sooner you start applying and the more persistent your are, the better chance you have of being accepted.

5. Get a part-time job

There’s no greater preparation for a lifetime of work than getting a job.

As fxlloutboyy writes: “It prepares you for the world of work and shows the university that you're aiming for a career.”

Don't worry if the only part-time jobs available have nothing to do with your future career plans. By finding a part-time job, you'll be building up experience of the workplace - something you can use in your CV once your post-uni job hunt begins.

students in conversation and laughing

6. Volunteering

If finding paid employment is proving difficult, you can still pick up work skills elsewhere. One of the best ways is by volunteering.

Charities and community groups are always looking for people with time and energy to support their cause.

In return, you could get vital experience which will not only help beef up your CV but also improve essential skills which will boost your future job prospects.

Think about what you want to gain from the experience and try to find a voluntary role which will support that.

7. Go travelling

It may be a cliched way for students to spend their time away from the classroom but discovering new places and cultures can be a real learning curve which will help you grow as a person.

It does not have to be purely recreational; many charities offer volunteering trips to locations around the globe.

8. Pursue your hobbies

It takes more than top grades to nail your top job; you have to be a well rounded person too, which is why having interests and hobbies is important too.

As Duncan2012 writes: “You've got 3+ years of studying ahead of you, why not do something completely different while you have no responsibilities.”

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About our partner

University of Portsmouth

The Student Room is proud to work with the University of Portsmouth as the official partner for our content on employability and getting more from university.

Portsmouth has been awarded a prestigious gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and its degree courses are supported with real and simulated facilities such as a mock law court, industry-standard TV studios and a dental clinic. In 2017, The Economist ranked Portsmouth as the number one university for boosting its graduates' salaries.

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