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I know what you’re thinking: the F word! It’s only November, way too soon to start thinking about that scary abyss beyond university – ‘the Real World’. But no matter what year you’re in, it’s never too soon to start planning for life post-degree and here are some (hopefully) helpful pointers to help you start thinking about your next steps.
For the First and Second Year students: it’s all too easy to disregard thoughts of a career or life after university at this stage, but even just a few small, quick steps now could help you out immensely in the future.
Lancaster holds several careers fairs throughout the year that are well worth a visit; these events can help you find new avenues to explore in terms of what career you may be interested in, as well as giving you the opportunity to connect with businesses and organisations and forge links that could prove invaluable in getting you a job or internship after university. It only takes an hour out of your day to take a look around, and you’ll never again be in an environment where you can make contact with so many businesses! If you’re feeling even more proactive when it comes to your career, there’s nothing to lose by writing to a few companies in your chosen fields and inquiring about work experience or job opportunities for graduates: this will not only help pad out your CV but you may find that these organisations keep in contact and remember you after graduation. Taking the initiative in this situation can only impress!
As a Third Year, the issue of the ‘future’ starts to get a little more serious. It is time to start taking steps to ensure that you have something to focus on at the end of the year. If you’re interested in further study, I’d recommend that you start to identify a research area that appeals to you and seek out the institutions that may be interested in pursuing it with you. Putting a little research into your chosen venue and course will help greatly when it comes to applications.
For many of us, though, this time of year marks the dreaded applications for grad schemes. Graduate schemes are a great choice to kick-start your career; you have the chance to work in multiple departments within an organisation and find out what interests you, alongside other young people in major cities and some foreign countries. With this, however, comes an intense amount of competition. Graduate schemes are difficult to get onto and the application process requires a great amount of time and consideration. To get started, check out websites such as Milkround.com and TargetJobs to get a feel for what’s out there. Also, start talking to your friends, family and careers advisors about the application process; it is vital that you have as many pairs of eyes as possible checking over your CV, they may pick up on something that you miss. And remember, they may not be industry experts, but members of your family have had to apply for jobs themselves and go through similar processes, so don’t disregard them as a valuable source of advice and feedback. Once your CV is the best it can be, it’s time to start applying! Put yourself out there, even if you don’t think you have a chance with a certain job or scheme, it doesn’t hurt to apply and similarly, ask for feedback if you’re not successful.
With all that in mind – there is no better time to take those first steps and start thinking about the future. There are a multitude of helpful sources online to help you with applications, interviews etcetera and remember; the university has an exemplary careers service on hand to help you out over at The Base and via portal. Good luck!