Your guide to choosing a university for greater career opportunities | Top Universities

Your guide to choosing a university for greater career opportunities

By Laura L

Updated March 27, 2023 Updated March 27, 2023

With over 20,000 universities worldwide covering everything from art curation to zoology, there are many factors to consider when choosing the best fit for you. It’s important to do your research into the programme details, academic expertise, student life on campus and most importantly, how your degree will prepare you for a successful and thriving career in the field you choose. 

From the careers service to work experience and live projects on the curriculum, there are many different ways that universities can offer a rich experience that leaves you ready to take on the world once you graduate.  

Here’s how you can find out whether a university will increase your employability.  

Find out about the university’s careers services 

Most universities will have a dedicated careers service for students and recent graduates to access. Employability experts can help you with everything from finding a part-time job to working abroad and workshops on interview prep, CV help and more. Some universities will offer guest talks from alumni in your field of interest, so you can see the potential opportunities open to you after your studies. 

Making the most of the careers service while you study – and receiving careers guidance as you get closer to graduating – will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed when you come to the end of your studies. You can find most information about a university’s employability support on their website, but it’s also a great opportunity to ask about this service at open days and when speaking to current students.  

At Columbia University, ranked 10th best university in the US, students can attend career exploration summits to explore and engage with organisations and alumni across different industries. It's a chance to understand more about potential career paths and to learn about the most pressing trends and challenges in a range of industries. 

Learn about working on campus 

While it might not be related to the career you’re interested in, taking on a part-time role at university can help you to learn transferable skills like time management, organisation and even managing a team.  

Find out what opportunities are available on campus for part-time student work. Often, university careers services and students’ unions have a job centre, where you can see the vacancies, how much they’re paid and apply through an online portal.  

You could work as a student ambassador, talking to future students and parents at open days about your experiences. Or you could work in one of the university cafes or bars. Alternatively, if you can’t find a student job then getting involved in a student society is a great way to meet new people, organise events and gain new skills.  

Is there a mentorship scheme for students? 

Mentorship is a great way to talk through challenges and find solutions with an experienced guide. The University of Bristol, ranked ninth best university in the UK, pairs students with alumni from the school via the careers service, offering shadowing opportunities and one-to-one discussions with an expert in the same field, from the same cultural background or with similar life challenges.  

Mentorship can be a helpful tool to understand more about the challenges you may face in the working world. It can help you to create goals for your career and how to achieve them, and how to work with different people across a range of roles.  

Look at the curriculum for real world opportunities 

Does the curriculum offer the chance to work on a live project with a company or organisation, to pitch an idea to a client, or to work with a community group to find a solution to a problem? The more hands-on experience you can gain while studying, the better.  

Real-world opportunities will differ depending on the subject you study, so talking to the academics and programme leaders can help you to understand what’s on offer and will give you the chance to ask questions about how the projects benefit your career.  

Many university programmes also include guest lectures, where successful industry experts and alumni are invited to talk to the cohort about their experiences since graduating and the lessons they’ve learned in their field. You can usually ask questions at the end and follow the guests on social media to build your own network.  

Ask about student initiatives 

Not everything that’s set up to become a successful graduate is run by university staff. Sometimes the best initiatives are student-led. From climate action groups to entrepreneurship teams, there are always proactive students who want to make change while they study.  

At The University of Manchester, the sixth best university in the UK, students formed a feminist collective and organise events, talks and socials to discuss intersectional themes of feminism.  

Student unions might be the best place to find out about student initiatives, or you can ask students themselves at open days, or some university websites give you the opportunity to chat online chat with current students.  

Still thinking of where to apply? We can help. 

With QS, you can choose from over 500 universities, get admissions advice, learn about visa requirements and manage your offers in one place, all with a single application.  

We'll help you with everything you need to find the right university for you. Get in touch!

This article was originally published in January 2023 . It was last updated in March 2023

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Written by

As Senior Content Editor for and, Laura publishes articles for our student audience around the world, working with ambassadors and alumni to provide helpful content to those looking for study options. Laura has six years' experience in Higher Education marketing and writing for a student audience. 


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