Please ask yourself this question:
“When I finish university, what am I going to do next?”
Sit down and really take in this question, as I know some of you may not have any answers yet. University can be fun and all, but I believe a lot of us are letting our university years go to waste. You need to remember that University is not real life and unfortunately when reality hits, it is going to be difficult to adapt. One of the hardest challenges will be gaining employment, and one of the main reasons for this will be due to a lack of experience.
Before I start explaining myself, I just want to make a quick disclaimer. First of all, I am not saying that you need to have a clear-cut plan because I myself do not have one. However, being unsure of the future while having something to fall back on is better than having nothing at all. Secondly, I am aware that there are individuals who are able to secure fantastic graduate jobs, without any prior experience. However, not everyone is this fortunate. It is not wise to tell yourself that ‘because person A was able to secure a job in Goldman Sachs without any experience, I can do the same.‘ Personally, I do not agree with this mentality. You cannot compare yourself to anyone else, as everyone’s path is unique to them.
Ok, so why am I writing this post? Well, I have noticed that things, i.e. Jobs, are becoming way more competitive. Employers require a lot more from their potential employees. They are looking for someone who will stand out of the crowd, as well as possess the suitable qualities to work within the firm. Yet, I do not think that enough have let this sink in yet.
Think about the sector you desire to work in. Now think about the firm you want to work for. If you come to an interview and have nothing to offer them, apart from your degree, explain why they should hire you? What relevant experience do you have that will be beneficial in the workplace? What skills have you gained that will help you in the workplace? If you cannot answer any of these questions, then this could possibly be detrimental to your dream career.
I try to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in things within or outside of University, but it is frustrating when they show no interest or make it seem like you are ‘doing too much’. There is nothing wrong with doing a little bit more, as it can be so valuable in the long run. It has been beneficial for me because the interviews I have been fortunate to go to, have focused on my work experience and extra-curricular activities. I definitely preferred talking about that, rather than the history of the firm (which I always seemed to forget during the interview, sigh.) Even if you want to start your own business, the skills that you gain from extra-curricular activities would be really useful when working for yourself. For example, societies run similar to an enterprise.
Last week, I met a girl who graduated last summer and was struggling to get a job. Her main problem was that she lacked experience. She expressed her regrets of not getting involved more and advised me to make the most of the opportunities available in my University. I do not want to be in this position and I know many of you do not either but are you sure you are taking the necessary steps to avoid this?
I know that there are other obstacles you may face as you enter the world of work, such as gender, racial and religious barriers, but in my opinion, with a lack of experience, you are giving employers more of a reason to say no. To some, this may sound harsh, but I am writing this post because I genuinely care and I want everyone to have the best chance of success. So, PLEASE try and maximise your uni experience, there are so many opportunities being offered, take them. You can get involved in society work, take on a sport, go to an insight day, take an online course or even start your own project. Start taking the steps to shape your future now rather than later.