Universities offer loads of careers advice to help guide you onto a path to the future that you want. Here are my tips for getting the most out of a careers appointment.
I have heard many people say that they aren’t sure what the careers service can do for them, or question whether they will get relevant advice. If you have questions about your university’s careers service, pop in or send an email to see what they offer. It will vary from uni to uni, but I’ve yet to come across a university that doesn’t offer anything. The Open University has a great careers service for distance learning students too! At my university, we have people within the careers department with legal backgrounds (some have done training contracts at city firms) that can help with specific legal advice. If you are doing law (or even if you aren’t), there may be someone designated to help with careers.
Know what you want
This may be a little bit more difficult if you have no clue what you would like to do. But careers services usually have tools that can help with this and they may suggest things you hadn’t even thought of. If you know what you want to do, go in with a list of questions or things that you would like to find out as this will help to guide the appointment.
Don’t go into a career’s appointment expecting to walk out with work experience! They may be able to point you in the right direction, but you need to do hard work. Asking the right questions will help you to get what you need during the appointment.
Take your CV
I take the opportunity to have my CV reviewed by a professional whenever possible. There are always different perspectives on what a CV should contain and look like, so even if you think yours is perfect, there may be a few tweaks that they can suggest from a recruiter’s point of view.
Be open to training opportunities
A careers adviser may suggest workshops, lectures or training events to improve your technique or interview skills. Use these! My law school has previously organised these events with big firms to give a combination of useful advice and networking opportunities. Attending such events can also allow you to find out specific things about different firms’ application processes. The same goes for if your university offers any employability awards. It demonstrates that you are willing to put in extra effort to be an employable person.
Talk to lecturers and tutors
It isn’t just the careers service that can give advice! Law lecturers and tutors may have had experiences before moving into teaching and research, and I often find that these people are the best people to talk to about why they decided not to go into practice. PhD students are also great people to talk to if you are interested in a future career in research or similar.
Don’t be afraid to go back
If your career goals change or you think you simply need a little more guidance, careers service is there to be used! Some universities may have a limit on the amount of careers appointments you can have, but a follow-up email won’t be ignored.
Practice makes perfect
Careers services are often the best place to practice skills such as interview techniques. If you know the types of question (eg, competency) you may be asked during an interview, mention this and practice some scenarios. Some universities now even have virtual reality interview slots, so you can practice alone before doing a face-to-face interview.