Whether you’re on a two, three or four year course, your penultimate year at university is increasingly regarded as a vital time for career planning and gaining work experience. By carefully planning your career trajectory, establishing links with employers and gaining valuable experience, you can put yourself in the best possible position when it comes to applying for jobs. This means that during your final year at university, you can be confident in your position, avoid the last minute panic and focus on what counts: getting the degree results you need to begin the career you want.

Where do I start?

You may already have an idea of  which employers you want to work for and in what profession. If not, you can explore our profession areas to learn more about the areas of work that suit your strengths and interests, as well as find comprehensive lists of graduate employers for each profession. Once you have done this initial research, it is best to concentrate your efforts on a focused selection of suitable employers, as places for internship, placement and graduate vacancies are often highly sought after.

What’s happening on campus?

At the beginning of the academic year, usually in October and November, your university careers service will hold an autumn careers fair. This is the ideal chance to meet with employers and discuss the internship and graduate opportunities available to you and ask any questions you may have about the recruitment process.

Employers will also be on campus at various other times in the autumn term holding drop-ins, skills sessions or presentations. These can help you to identify and hone the skills and competencies valued by graduate recruiters, such as commercial awareness. Use our events calendar and visit your careers service to find out about these opportunities. You can also go to the careers page for a specific employer you’re interested in working for and see if and when they are visiting your university.

A recent High Fliers survey found that over one third of entry-level positions for graduates are filled by people who have had work experience with that employer.

Internships

Your second year is the ideal time to apply for internships with the big graduate recruiters. These usually take place in the summer between your second and third year, however the recruitment process for them begins a lot earlier and you will need to start applying for them from September onwards. It’s a good idea to apply early, as spaces for internships are competitive – especially in certain locations or business areas. Internships give you the opportunity to decide whether a company or industry is right for you. They can also lead to you securing a graduate job with the same company.

Placements

If you are doing a four year course you may have the option of studying abroad or doing a placement in your third year. You can choose to do two sixth month placements or one twelve month

placement. There are usually dedicated placement staff within your department or careers centre to help you organise these. You can also use our Employer Directory to see which companies offer placement opportunities.

Updating your CV

If you undertake an internship or any form of work experience or shadowing, you will need to update your CV accordingly. This is also the case if you volunteer or take on any part-time work during your second year, or take on a more active position in a university society, such as treasurer or president. Find out how to include volunteering on your CV. Importantly when updating your CV you need to pick out the relevant skills that you have gained from these experiences rather than produce an exhaustive list of them all. Remember to begin or continue to establish your professional online presence too, for example on LinkedIn.

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