Starting your career at University

As some of you who will be reading this will start University soon, thinking about what job you want after you graduate may be the last thing on your mind! Though, from experience of what I did and did not do in my first year of University, thinking ahead is something your future self will thank you for.

I will be sharing a few of my reflections and resources you can utilise to get you thinking about your career; which should be useful for students, regardless of what year you are in.

1. Get involved with societies; career and non-career related

This has probably been drilled into everyone’s mind, no matter what your position is at University, however it is such a useful piece of advice in a number of ways! There are so many great societies at KCL and other universities, which aim to equip you to become ‘career-ready.’ They will also have workshops, career panels and alumni talks which should help you gain an understanding of the types of paths you can pursue outside of university and the best way to get there. Freshers fair is a great way to discover these societies, as they will all be in near proximity to each other. Joining societies which do not necessarily focus on employability is also crucial to show employers that you are involved with extra-curricular activities; as well as developing your wider awareness. Getting a committee position on a society which you are genuinely interested in is an amazing way to develop a broad array of skills such as leadership and time management. Being able to have specific examples of where you have demonstrated these skills will put you in good stead for interviews. Again, freshers fair is the perfect place to find out a bit more about these positions and the deadlines to apply.

2. Network, network, network!

The value of networking is something I can’t emphasise enough. It sounds quite challenging when you first come across the term, however it is simply just having conversations with people! This is something we do every day; speaking to people and building relationships with them. Utilising LinkedIn is a great place to start, as once connected, you can message people from industries you are interested in and start a conversation; they are normally always willing to help and you never know what opportunities/advice that person will have for you! Besides that, you should also get in touch with your subject’s society who can provide you with an alumni to speak to. This can help you understand the types of careers people may enter with your degree. Overall, the key is to learn as much as possible; simply speaking to people may result in you discovering the career you love!

3. Reflect on your strengths and interests

Spending time thinking about your skills set and what you are interested in is really important to ensure that you do not end up in a job which you do not enjoy. When looking at internships and jobs, this self-awareness will allow you to pick ones where you will perform your best. That genuine interest in a specific area will show through in an interview and throughout the application process. Being more self-aware will also enable you to sell your personal brand more easily when meeting new people.

4. Do not stress!

I feel like this is very important to mention, as it can often feel very stressful when other students seem to have figured everything out and you may not have. A lot of the time, they actually do not know how best to get to this career they want; and rather, are copying everyone else’s interests. By simply getting involved in University life and focusing on developing your skills, you will be in a much better position than the majority of people!

Good luck and keep an eye out for internships for this academic year!