25 October 2023
4 Ways to Improve Your Employability as a Student
For some students, life after university is a distant thought. For other students, the idea of finding their first job after university is rather daunting.
One of the most common questions students ask career support staff at their universities is “how can I improve my employability?”.
Luckily, our partners at Enactus UK have a few tips to share…
- Join a society
- Apply for work experience and internship opportunities
- Volunteer in your spare time
1. Join a society
Everyone knows that joining a student group can lead to new friendships and can boost your confidence. What fewer people realise is that the skills you develop through participating in extracurricular activities can better equip you in the world of work.
For example, regular participation in a sports team or student band develops skills like organisation, problem solving and teamwork.
In addition, taking on a position of extra responsibility within a society further develops your skills:
- Presidents are the figureheads of any group, but should also demonstrate empathy for their members’ needs and decisive action within their committee.
- Treasurers manage budgets, but they also need to have analytical skills and clear communication to ensure their group stays financially sustainable.
- Social Secretaries may be the life and soul of events, but they also use creativity and time management to make activities a success.
The list goes on…though perhaps not an immediate place to look for personal development, joining extra-curricular groups can raise your professional image as well as your personal one.
2. Apply for work experience and internship opportunities
Sometimes, learning from the people in your ideal job is the best way to understand an industry and whether it’s the best fit for you!
By talking to people from a certain organisation or, even better, getting first-hand experience, you can gain a realistic idea of how things happen and what is required in a specific job. There are plenty of ways to get your foot in the door.
Ask yourself the following questions…
Do I know anyone with lived experience of the kind of work I’m interested in?
Reach out for a coffee break chat with a couple of questions you’ve prepared in advance and just let the conversation flow.
As part of Enactus UK’s business coaching scheme, students have the chance to talk to a range of people from their partner organisations and gain a realistic insight into the world of work.
Is my university promoting any upcoming opportunities at organisations/in sectors that appeal to me?
You’ll often find your university promoting such events or application windows via their website, social media and flyers around campus.
Could I join a national organisation that might give me the upper hand?
There are lots of organisations out there that want to help you find your dream job. Platforms such as Enactus UK and RateMyPlacement.co.uk are free to join and provide exclusive opportunities to their members!
Becoming an Enactus UK student also opens the door to graduate and placement fast track schemes, meaning you can skip through stages of their application process.
3. Volunteer in your spare time
Giving back is good for the soul. Have a few hours to spare one week? Fancy making a more regular time commitment?
Speak to your students’ union, which will either work directly with volunteering projects in your local community or will know the people that do.
When you’re volunteering for a good cause, your talents are more likely to shine through.
This is no different with Enactus UK projects, which aim to improve the lives of local people whilst tackling the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, addressing topics like poverty, hunger and climate change.
Just like any other student group, Enactus UK projects encourage further development through leadership roles at all 65 universities in which it operates.
Another great benefit of volunteering is recognition. It’s rewarding to be able to help others, but sometimes this is difficult to communicate on a CV or in an interview.
Lots of charities will send you a certificate of thanks to confirm and recognise the time you dedicated to their cause.
We can’t stress this enough: in whatever you do, it’s so important to network!
What does this actually mean? To put it simply: get to know people. The more people you talk to in a certain industry or career path, the better an understanding you will have of the journey you’re embarking on.
You also never know when knowing someone specific might help you further down the line.
Unsure how to approach this? Try one of these…
- Attend industry and alumni insight events. University careers services often produce a whole calendar of events, as does the team at Enactus UK.
- Start building your presence on a professional online network like LinkedIn. Your career prospects are just a connection and a friendly message away.
- Follow national organisations online that focus on bringing students and industry experts together. Enactus UK frequently shares posts with partner representatives on LinkedIn.
We know that networking can seem daunting at first. It’s helpful to remember that everyone started somewhere; even your role model was once in your shoes. Whatever you do, try something that makes you happy and give it your all; it’s bound to lead somewhere.
Enactus is the UK’s leading youth social action and enterprise education charity, supporting 3,000+ young entrepreneurs and benefiting local communities through 200+ voluntary projects every year.
We believe that investing in students who take entrepreneurial action for others creates a better, more sustainable world for us all. Find out more at enactusuk.org and join the social action conversation by tagging @EnactusUK on social media.