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The basics
Study abroad : Career Prospects

What do university careers services really offer?

Wondering how to find a career after university? We explore how careers services can put you on the right path.

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Finding a career after university can seem like a daunting prospect and you may not know exactly where to begin. Not to worry though. Universities offer a wide range of careers services to help students with everything from CV advice, personality tests to internship opportunities. Usually, this support is also totally free and available during and after your degree. Here, we’ll run you through some of the careers’ services offered by universities and how you can use them to your advantage.


1. Psychometric and personality tests

Certain roles and graduate schemes will require you to pass a psychometric and/or personality test during the screening stage of applying. These exams will test your logic, verbal reasoning, numeracy and personality traits to find out whether you would be a good fit for a company, both in terms of aptitude and personality. Myers Briggs is a popular personality test with 16 different personality types based on distinct traits. This gives both you and future employers an indication of your strengths, weaknesses and your suitability for the desired role.


A university careers service can provide you with tips, 1-1 mentoring and practice tests. Make sure you locate these services during your time at university. Most universities will ask you to book a session, which might be through an online portal via the website. In your first year of university, you might not be thinking about your career too much but if you want to land an internship in your final year, you’ll need to be prepared well in advance as these schemes can be highly competitive. So, it is a good idea to check out the career’s services at the end of your first year or beginning of your second year. This way you can perfect your CV and understand the application processes.


2. Alumni support

The great news is you can still access this advice even after you’ve left university. The length of time that these services are available does however depend on the institution. For example, at The University of Alberta in Canada, graduates have access to resources and employment postings for up to five years after leaving the university. This means that you can receive support and guidance if you find yourself in-between jobs after university. So, if you’re a little stuck after your degree, you know where you can head for some personal advice.


3. Workshops

While it depends on the university, workshops are often run by university careers teams. This might be a practical session on CV’s, writing an application, choosing a career or learning how to ace an interview. These sessions might also be run by external parties such as Goldsmiths University which offers employer workshops in the aim of developing students’ business sense and commercial awareness. These workshops involve presentations and simulations of different work scenarios. The workshops are also a great way to network and find out more about the type of work you might pursue once your course has ended.


4.  Practice interviews

Interviews are often considered to be one of the most nerve-wracking stages in any job application process. Landing an interview is a good sign as you’re being given the opportunity to speak about your experience and suitability for the role. However, it can lead to anxious feelings which you wouldn’t want to prevent you from getting the role. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. While you can’t foresee what questions you’ll be asked, you can make intelligent guesses and prepare for the most common questions asked in interviews.

So how can a careers service help? Well, as much as asking yourself questions in the mirror might seem effective at first, having a careers consultant ask you questions is excellent practice for the real thing. They can then also review your answers and provide constructive feedback on ways to improve. Remember, you can never be too prepared.


5. Employer mentor schemes

Some universities match students to an alumnus graduate who has excelled in their career. This is a way of connecting current students and recent graduates to professionals who have been successful in their industry. This can be really beneficial if you are yet to gain experience in your desired field as you can learn how others progressed in their professions. You might also find out about employment opportunities while speaking to these guest mentors. Similarly, this is your chance to ask questions and gain insight into what the job involves such as work/life balance or day to day responsibilities.  


6. Entrepreneurial guidance

Universities all around the world are keen to support graduates and students who want to start their own business. This support might include applications for funding, workspaces, speaker events and advice from previous students who started their own business. So, if you’ve got an idea and you want to explore its potential, you can speak to someone from your university careers service and find out what scope there is. Find out more about developing your entrepreneurial skills at university.


7. Internships  

Gaining work experience at university looks really impressive for future employers and shows that you’ve worked in a professional environment before. But internships can be highly competitive, particularly if you’re based in a major city. So, if you’re eager to gain work experience while you’re at university, it’s definitely worth booking a meeting with a careers counsellor as they are likely to have databases of opportunities. The careers counselors will also be able to advise on the best way to apply and can help with every step of the process.


So hopefully you’re now feeling motivated to contact a careers team while at university as their support and advice can be hugely beneficial to your future. It might be helpful to bookmark this article so that you can refer to it when you need reminding of the services on offer.


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