CAREERS BLOG: We’re not just for final year students

UoY Careers Imagine the possibilities LARGE dark green Careers blog written by Irena Zientek, Information Resources Manager, Careers

Something we’ve noticed in recent years – and this year in particular – is the number of first year students getting involved with Careers events and actions. Which is great!

Many students of all years realise they need to be getting work experience, developing skills, trying out new things, well before the end of their course.

Gone are the days when an employer recruited graduates solely on their academic record. Now they want more from candidates and to be able to offer more, students need to start early with careers-related activities. To find out what might be of interest to you, the earlier you start exploring the more time you have to find what’s right for you.

Also, if you’re aiming for some types of work / employers or you want to continue your studies (to Masters or research level), you’ll need to start early too. This might be because closing dates are sooner than you think or because you’ll need plenty of time to go through the process of researching and applying.

So, what can you be doing now, as a first year?

Your college is a good place to start – involvement with events and activities (particularly if you’re helping to organise and plan them) is a useful way to develop skills. The added benefit is that you have fun as well. Check with your college to see what’s happening and how you can get involved. Student clubs and societies offer similar opportunities too.

Many first years have part-time jobs during term. As well as earning some extra cash, you will get work experience and exposure to a real work environment. Have a look at our information sheet, Finding part-time and temporary work in the UK for more info.

Volunteering is also a good way to gain experience and skills. Careers, Colleges, YUSU and external organisations have plenty of volunteering opportunities – check them out at

Make a start with the Employability Tutorial. This VLE-based resource helps you think about the different aspects of career planning, with exercises about understanding your skills and interests, and what steps to take next.

Finally, get involved with the York Award. This is the University’s recognition of your employability and skills development and is something you can be working towards from day one. The assessment form’s deadline is towards the end of your first year, but you can view the form now, as well as guidelines for completing it.

The chances are you’re already doing some of the above (and other) things and are probably further ahead on your career path than you think. So, what next? Keep doing ‘stuff’! Check out the Careers timeline for other suggestions, and if you’re note sure what else to do – just ask!