Employers who recruit students and graduates want more than a good academic record and degree class. They also want employability skills (eg IT, teamwork and communication skills), plus strengths and qualities (such as resilience and self-motivation). So, how can you develop these while you’re at university? Read on to find out.
1. Work experience
Whether it’s formal work experience (like an internship), casual part-time work or volunteering, being in a work-like environment helps you develop the skills valued by employers. Working with colleagues prepares you for graduate employment, giving you an insight into what’s expected in the workplace.
2. Student societies
Many people get involved in student-led activities for the social life and just for the fun of it. However, helping with organising student societies and/or taking on a committee role will also develop skills similar to those from work experience. Responsibilities like administering society funds, organising events or fundraising, reflect similar roles in the working world too.
Similarly, being part of a sports team or club can help you demonstrate your teamwork and communication skills, as well as your self-discipline and motivation.
Check out the YUSU website, if you’re not already involved in one of the many societies or sports.
3. Student development programmes
The University offers formal opportunities to explore your strengths (York Strengths) and leadership qualities (York Leaders), as well as the chance to reflect on your skills and experiences to articulate what you’ve achieved (York Award).
While York Strengths is typically aimed at first year undergraduates, all students can use York Strengths Online to explore and review their strengths.
York Leaders is typically intended for middle year undergraduates and aims to help you explore leadership in its many guises and not just as a leader in a work setting. York Award is mainly for final year undergrads and taught postgrads.
Finally, make sure you record examples of you using skills and strengths from all areas of your life – work, past times, studies. These will make the basis of your answers for job and further study applications in the future.