How to gain employability skills at university | Top Universities
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How to gain employability skills at university

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Craig OCallaghan

Updated Jul 10, 2024
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Discover ways to boost your employability at the University of Southampton

Sponsored by University of Southampton 
 
Preparing graduates for a competitive job market and successful careers should be an integral part of any university degree. This includes finding the most relevant internships and placements, getting support from industry experts, and joining the right societies. 

Discover our top ways to boost your employability and hear from student Navya Gulati about how she is making the most of the opportunities on her degree. 

Career connections and a global network 

Whilst at university, students should actively seek opportunities to build their employability skills, such as engaging in internships, participating in industry-related projects, and networking with professionals. Here at the University of Southampton, we offer a range of career-boosting opportunities beyond your degree – enabling you to take the next steps in your career with a gold standard CV, on-the-job experience, and a network of experts who can connect you to opportunities all over the world. 

One Southampton student who’s making the most of these opportunities is Navya Gulati, a final year BSc Accounting and Finance student from Delhi. 

Recently accepted onto the highly competitive graduate scheme at Goldman Sachs, Navya says it was her Southampton experience that helped her succeed over the other 100,000 applicants, adding: “I stood out because my profile was very holistic. Yes, my grades were good. But it was the events I attended and all my work experience that really made the difference.” 

It's all about experience  

There are lots of options to gain career experience at Southampton, including a Year in Employment or an Industrial Placement Year.  
 
Southampton uses an ‘own-find’ system for connecting students with one-year placements. This puts you in the driving seat when it comes to finding an employer for your Year in Employment or Industrial Placement Year, giving you autonomy to make choices that align with your career goals, location criteria and personal values. 

Placements can be found through Gradcracker or Southampton’s own MyCareer platform, and you’ll also be sent regular placement opportunities via the Careers Service and your faculty. You’ll be fully supported by specialist teams throughout the process. 

Alternatively, there are internships and placements of varying durations to suit your schedule, as well as Student Innovation Projects. These are collaborative, cross-discipline projects working to solve real-life business issues, and are exclusive to University of Southampton students. 

The right support at the right time  

Southampton’s MyCareer online platform connects students with those all-important opportunities and services. As Navya explains: “Before coming to Southampton, I was clueless about cover letters and how to write them! Using MyCareers, I went to several cover letter and CV sessions. I also did some practice tests, which really helped with my Goldman Sachs assessments. I knew each and every step what I should be doing.”  

In addition, each faculty has a Careers Consultant to provide tailored events, help and information for students, even after graduation. “My email inbox is always full of invitations to relevant networking events and panel discussions!” she added.  

There’s also a Career Mentoring Programme, a university-run service that matches students with Southampton graduates who are thriving in their career. A dedicated team will support you through the application, matching process, and the mentoring relationship.  

Navya was paired with a mentor in her second year at Southampton, an experience that she says really helped. “As a Chartered Accountant with Big Four experience, my mentor helped me choose modules, coached me for my internships, and gave me so much guidance when I was making choices about my future. I spoke to her regularly, even outside of term time”.

Turning your start-up idea into reality 

At Southampton you don’t have to wait. Start your business with help from Student Enterprise, STEM-focused Future Worlds, or business incubator SETsquared, who can all facilitate start-up funding, mentoring, skills-development workshops and creative co-working spaces. The Social Impact Lab can also support you in becoming a future social impact leader.  

And with a varied selection of student-founded and run entrepreneurial societies, such as Enactus and Fish on Toast, you can make friends with like-minded students from across the university.  

Navya has been an active member of several societies, notably Women in Business. “We recently had a panel discussion with speakers from Meta and Estee Lauder. They gave us a different perspective of working in the corporate world, it was really empowering. We had a networking session afterwards where they gave us tips on how to maintain our LinkedIn and how to approach people for jobs.” 

Find part-time work 

You’ll find lots of part-time jobs for students in and around Southampton, including on campus. And it’s not just about supplementing your income, as part-time work can give you experience that’ll boost your employability too.  

Navya has worked as a Student Ambassador during her studies, she says “It's really fun and flexible. I've made a lot of friends!”

You can also become a representative for your programme’s Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC), a great way to evidence your soft skills like communication and negotiation.

Learn more about the diverse opportunities available to enhance your employability at the University of Southampton. Discover how you can build a successful career with our comprehensive support, global network, and innovative programmes. 

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