“And to get real work experience, you need a job, and most jobs will require you to have had either real work experience, or a degree.” - Donald A Norman, Author
Many young people today face this rather infuriating cycle. You need some sort of work experience to get a job, and you need a job to get some work experience. And as the world of work continues to get competitive, how do you ensure that out of all the graduating students, you are picked for that all-important role?
It is, therefore, more crucial than ever before to use every opportunity available to develop skills that can help you stand out from the rest of the crowd. And the best part? You don’t need to wait till you graduate, or even finish school, to start doing it.
In this article, we highlight five practical ways to make yourself more employable while studying:
1. Make every experience count - be it work experience or a part-time job
Let’s face it - regardless of what the job might be, every bit of practical work experience will only have a positive impact on your future employability. Not only is it a fantastic way to get a taste of the workplace, but also gives you the opportunity to develop a host of soft skills that make you attractive to any employer.
If you are fortunate enough to find work experience in a particular industry that you’re interested in, it could also help you better connect your studies to the real-world requirements of what the role involves.
If you’re already at university, there are several advantages to getting a part-time job. Aside from the valuable work experience, it also highlights skills such as time-management, ability to multi-task and your passion for learning more about the world of work to potential employers. Plus you’ll also earn some extra cash - which, let’s be honest, it is hard to say “no” to.
Summer internships are also a great way to get your career up and running before leaving uni. It puts your skills into action and highlights your ability to commit to working life.
2. Plan ahead for your future career
It may sound a tad preachy, but any time is an excellent opportunity to get involved in discovering your future career. Your careers team, at school or university, offer perfect starting points to help students like yourself find suitable work experience and part-time opportunities.
And in our experience, they are always open to chat about your options too - be it further studies, or alternatives like degree apprenticeships.
You have a fantastic resource at your disposal - use them wisely.
3. Volunteer to develop crucial employability skills
If you’re looking for a fantastic way to gain work experience and develop some transferable skills while helping a good cause, volunteering ticks all those boxes. Volunteering is also highly favoured by employers since it highlights your dedication and motivation, alongside soft skills such as problem-solving and communication.
And if you still needed a reason to consider volunteering, it’s a great way to discover what you enjoy doing. And who knows, you may find your calling in the charity sector.
Volunteering also offers certain flexibility to your days - which means you can usually seamlessly fit it alongside your studies. And if you’re lucky, take a look at volunteering by spending your summer abroad helping those less fortunate – the ideal balance of travelling while gaining life long memories and experiences!
4. Brush up your social presence
In this age of social media, improving your employability isn’t just about getting work experience. Many employers will observe your social media presence as part of the application process. So, while you may be using it to update others about your personal life or sharing memes, it’s also important to ensure you have a professional social media presence.
We’re certainly not discouraging the use of social media platforms - in fact, we believe that you should use your platforms in the right way and showcase brand ‘YOU’. Additionally, social media also provides excellent networking opportunities and the potential to expand your professional connections.
And if you’re really serious about it, why not use your skills to create a blog or become a freelancer. You could be well on your way to building a positive online presence while earning some good money too.
5. Focus On Your Academic Studies
While the above points are more geared towards helping you develop more all-round skills, it goes without saying that focusing on your studies ranks quite highly when it comes to improving your employability. While more employers are starting to look beyond just academic results, your subject-level knowledge is still crucial.
Plus if you’re going to uni, you will be spending a hefty sum on tuition fees - so make the most of it. The simple truth of it all is that your school and uni years will fly by in no time. And before you know it, you’ll be searching for your big opportunity.
So, make the most of every experience and be prepared to dazzle your prospective employers with all the skills you’ve managed to develop.
Sid Balachandran is the Content Marketing Manager at Springpod, an early careers network for young people to explore diverse career paths and connect with leading UK employers. An experienced content creator, he believes good content is nothing short of a superpower - one that can change the world, influence people, inspire others and help brands succeed.