Making the most of your time in the UK

By Marion Derbyshire, The University of Derby

“Employability skills are a set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace.”
The Confederation of British Industry

Develop the skills that employers want

Graduate recruiters look for evidence of employability or transferable skills that lift you above the competition.

Employers in the UK and across the world look for a range of skills and experiences in graduate employees in addition to a degree. That’s why, whether you have a career path in mind or are keeping your future options open, we’ll encourage you to build career development into all aspects of your student life from your first day.

 Global competencies tag cloud from Global Graduates – What is a global graduate

 Take advantage of careers advice

 A university degree is an internationally recognised academic qualification – but it’s much more than that. Your course will encourage you to develop new ways of thinking and expose you to new cultures and diverse working practices. You’ll develop a range of skills such as problem solving, language ability, initiative, teamwork and creativity – all of which will help you stand out in the international job market.

Your university careers service offers support, advice and guidance tailored to you, working hard to help you take control of your future.

A broad and innovative range of services are available to all students, including:

  • an international focus on job hunting with advice on how to market your UK experience to employers;
  • an online vacancies and events database;
  • one to one career mentoring with experienced professionals.

And don’t forget to come along to employer fairs, presentations and workshops; they are a fantastic chances to interact with employers and obtain an insight into graduate jobs and placements.

Experience the work place

Many courses allow you to take advantage of industrial experience opportunities that can help shape your career.  You may also be able to undertake part-time work, allowing you to learn new skills and earn money while you study.

Talk to your careers service about placements, vacation work and internships, work shadowing, mentoring and part-time work to give you a head start with employers.

Working in a temporary position at the university looks good on your CV, as employers will be impressed that you can juggle study and a job.  The positions are often flexible, allowing students to work around lectures and exams.  A range of different jobs are available including administration or IT work, bar, hospitality or promotional work, library positions and skilled roles such as translating and photography.

Get involved

Cultural awareness is increasingly a key selection factor for graduate employers. You’ll not only mix with British people, you’ll also be able to meet students from all over the world, learn about other cultures and improve your communication skills.

Universities have an active and vibrant students’ union, where you’ll find a range of societies, many of which are professionally focused. Get involved, broaden your connections and develop qualities that are great for your CV, such as leadership skills.

With a wide range of societies available, you can enjoy groups focusing on the areas:

  • Academic – societies based on university schools and subjects,
  • Charitable – various local and national charities will have societies to let students get involved in various activities and fundraising,
  • Faith and cultural – nearly all religions and cultures will be covered, reflecting the multicultural student population in the UK,
  • Hobbies or interests including chess, poker and yoga,
  • Political – whatever your political stance, there should be a society that fits your needs,
  • Sport – it can provide more than just regular exercise and gives you a break from academic work.  It can help nurture key skills that employers look for, especially for those involved in the executive teams or sports committees.

Volunteering

Volunteering, n. (vol-uhn-teer-ing):

Any activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims primarily to benefit the environment or someone (individuals or groups) other than close relatives.

Volunteering is a great way to enhance your university experience. It’s a great way to make new friends and become part of the local community as well as developing new skills and experiences which will look great on your CV when you start job hunting.

There are a wide range of opportunities to get involved in. These range from activities that support other students and improve the university community, through to getting involved in charities and not for profit organisations in the wider community outside of campus.

Find opportunities within charity and community organisations, by fundraising, through sports volunteering, within the environmental, by volunteering overseas, through being a student rep and by supporting vulnerable people.