What to do with the last 4 months of your visa
After graduation, you may have some time left in the UK before your visa expires. If you are wondering how to best use this time, consider developing your career capital. Career capital is anything that puts you in a better position in your career, such as skills, connections, experience, credentials and so on. Below are some activities you can undertake to help with this – and remember, you can discuss any of the below with the Careers Network.
Research what skills employers want now and in the future – and make a plan to upskill
Even if you have a job lined up, researching labour market information (LMI) to understand predicted trends can help you better understand how to focus your professional development and stand out to prospective employers. For example, if analytics is an increasingly required skill in your sector, you could complete some online professional courses to further develop your skills in this area.
There are online resources for developing professional skills such as Coursera.org, FutureLearn, EdX.org, Khan Academy and Lynda.com.
Get clarity on where you can add value to an organisation
Clearly understanding your strengths and how you can best add value to a future employer in your chosen field can also help focus your career development. For example, you may naturally enjoy getting to know new people, want to work in an industry that doesn’t attract a lot of people with customer relationship building skills and having researched job roles can see how these skills could be of specific use to companies. Taking steps to become more skilled and/or experienced in this area is something worth considering to make you stand out as a candidate.
As you do this, practise communicating to employers how this skill will benefit them.
Build up your professional contacts
Knowing people in your industry who you can ask for advice (such as a mentor) can speed up your career development, regardless of whether you are looking for a new job or not. People often find it difficult to invest a lot of time in this once they are in employment, so after graduation is a great opportunity to invest time in this. The Careers Network have resources which can help you with this.
One way to gain further skills and experience that would impress an employer is to complete freelance projects. If you are still unsure about your career direction, this is also a great way to try out different options.
As an example, you can contact local businesses about consulting on a topic based on your skills and experience. You can also search online for opportunities.
Volunteer for a cause you care about
Volunteering has many benefits, such as improving your confidence using workplace English. The experience may also make your applications stronger, and gives potential employers more of an insight about you as a person. Spending time helping on a cause you care about can also be fun and greatly rewarding. Volunteering opportunities can be found by visiting www.do-it.org.
Christian Jameson-Warren, Loughborough University