Contrary to what we may believe, a university degree is not a golden ticket to securing a job upon graduation, nor is it sufficient in helping you stay ahead of the pack when it comes to the job hunt.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are 5 suggestions on what you can do to boost your employability while still in university and to add some meat to your curriculum vitae (CV).
#1. Get work experience
Experts generally agree that the best way a fresh graduate can improve their employability is by getting work experience.
These experiences can come in the form of internships or part-time jobs. Even if these jobs are unrelated to your field of study, they will equip you with transferable skills that will be useful in the future. These include communication, time management and the ability to work under pressure, which are applicable in different work environments.
Who knows, if you do well, your part-time gig might become a full-time job offer once you’ve graduated!
#2. Say “yes” to extracurricular activities
Participating in extracurricular activities is similar to getting work experience — it shows that you have gained transferable skills that can be applied in the workforce and that you’re not merely about your grades, but have carved a life for yourself outside the classroom.
For example, if you’re a journalism student, you may want to consider joining the university’s student newspaper to experience writing news stories and to understand how the editorial process works. This not only helps you put what you’ve learnt into practice, but it also shows potential employers of your interest and passion for the field.
So don’t be afraid to try new things! College and university life is the best time for you to explore your interests and dabble in clubs and societies. The people you meet and the skills you gain may come in handy in the future.
#3. Pick up new skills
Both soft and technical skills are equally valuable and important for you to succeed in the workplace. This makes it crucial for you to be open to learning new skills, even those that may be outside your course domain, as it can set you apart from the pack.
For example, if you love to write, you can pick up related technical skills that are relevant to your future career, such as programming (which is useful for web content) and using design software (e.g. Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), as this will make you more employable compared to a graduate who only knows how to write.
So if you have some free time on your hands, why not tap into free online resources to learn something a new?
#4. Keep a portfolio of your best work
Whether it’s a sample of your fiction writing, digital art or videos, it pays to keep a copy of your best work from university or your internship.
Show off your hard work with a physical copy or an e-portfolio (or both!), and ensure that you update it. Need an incentive to create a portfolio? A study suggests that employers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website, so it’s worth setting one up.
Portfolio aside, you could also keep a collection of all your work, both the good and bad, to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and where to improve.
#5. Get some volunteer experience
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to try new experiences, such as getting involved in humanitarian welfare, conservation programmes and animal welfare. For example, if you’re keen on pursuing a career in early childhood education, volunteering as a classroom assistant in a school for disabled children may prove useful.
Volunteering is also a great way to open your eyes to the plight of the less fortunate. Who knows, their circumstances might even spur you to do something bigger in your life and make a positive change in theirs, similar to what these university students did to help empower refugee families in Malaysia.
As more students graduate with an undergraduate degree, it becomes pivotal for you to stand out from the crowd for the job hunt. So arm yourself with a plethora of skills and experiences that employers are looking for and put your best foot forward. With grit and determination, you can achieve your goal of securing your dream job!