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5 ways to improve your employability outside of your degree

By Chloe Lane

Updated November 2, 2021 Updated November 2, 2021

Secure the job of your dreams by making the most of your university’s career services and improving your employability. 

Sponsored by University of Reading 

Gaining a degree from a good university will instantly make you more employable, but it’s not the only way to stand out to future employers.  

Universities offer a wide range of services to help improve your employability – from career workshops to mentorship opportunities to internships.  

Read on to discover how you can take advantage of your university’s careers services and make yourself more attractive to graduate employers.  

Visit your university’s careers centre 

Whether you’re looking to brush up your CV, write a cover letter or simply learn more about the career options available to you, a visit to your university’s careers centre will help you find the information you need. 

Many university careers centres offer one-to-one careers coaching where you can book an appointment and get tailored careers advice.  

At the University of Reading, students can get career support for up to two years after graduation. This support helps students maintain well-being while job hunting, giving them the option to attend webinars and have up to four coaching sessions after they leave university. 

Alongside their personalised careers service, the University of Reading assigns each student a careers consultant who will help boost their employability skills within their subject’s department.   

Take part in a mentoring scheme  

In a competitive graduate market, speaking to someone who has done it all before can be a great source of comfort and advice. By taking part in a mentoring scheme, you will be able to ask for careers advice from a professional in your chosen industry who knows exactly what you’re going through and who can support you through the job decision making and application process. 

The University of Reading’s THRIVE career mentoring scheme is available to students across all disciplines. Students are partnered with University of Reading alumni who are successful and seasoned professionals and work closely with undergraduates to prepare them for starting their career.  

“These alumni help students to gain insight into their profession so they can compete successfully for graduate roles. Many of these mentors are working on all continents,” said Fiona Corby, a careers consultant at the University of Reading. 

Complete an internship 

In addition to bolstering your CV, an internship can help you develop a range of transferrable soft skills that will help you succeed in your future career.  

Internships are usually around one to three months long and are a great way to try working in roles and industries that interest you. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are now offering virtual internships to help students stay safe while completing their work experience.  

The Reading Internship Scheme is a partnership between the University of Reading and local start-ups businesses and not for profit organisations. Students have the option to complete paid, professional four-to-six-week internships at these local businesses in a diverse range of fields. 

Corby said: “Our Reading Internship Scheme gives students experience of working for a start-up or not for profit organisation.  Students can also boost funds and enhance their skillset and cultural understanding by working part-time on campus and in the town centre.” 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Reading has given students the option to complete these internships virtually. 

 “We have provided students with virtual work experience opportunities to compensate for reduced in-person work experience. This means that students can gain experience wherever they are situated,” said Corby. 

Gain a skills certificate  

Skills certificates are becoming an increasingly popular way to demonstrate your abilities to potential employers.  

LinkedIn Learning courses offer students the option to boost their expertise in certain skills, and throughout the pandemic, many universities offered online resources to help people boost their knowledge and employability by teaching them about certain subjects. 

The University of Reading offers students something slightly different. The Reading Employability Award (RED) helps students make the most of extra-curricular activities and experience on offer. It involves gaining 35 hours of work experience (which could include part-time-job, an internship or volunteering), as well as five hours of workshops, which helps with training and development. 

“The RED award facilitates students gaining relevant experience and development of the skillset which leading recruiters are looking for worldwide,” said Corby. 

For students considering a career in research, the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme (UROP) provides students with valuable work experience. 

Attend a careers fair 

Most universities offer careers fairs throughout the academic year where employers are invited to the university to talk to students about the opportunities available to them after university.  

At careers fairs, students can learn more about the career options available to them and ask any specific questions they may have. By gaining information about the companies and industries available, students can be better prepared for their job application, boosting their chances of employment. 

The University of Reading offers a range of careers fairs, webinars and employability initiatives. 

Corby said: “Through our fairs and webinars students can find out about a wide range of career opportunities and ask questions to professionals.   

“We also run sessions on how to network and provide openings for developing this technique in a safe environment. Students have access to employers world-wide.” 

This article was originally published in November 2021 .

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Written by

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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