At university we constantly receive a barrage of e-mails notifying students on all variations of ‘employer activities’ and ‘careers and employability’ opportunities that are happening on and around the university campus. So there is no plausible argument, in my opinion, where a student could say ‘this university didn’t give me enough skills to get into the workplace,’ writes Loughborouogh University undergraduate Sarah Cottam.
One of the most interesting opportunities was Loughborough University’s Employability Award; through participating in skill-related enterprises, the scheme allows students personal development “through participation in … activities outside your degree programme.” It also allows you to gain a recognised qualification on your student transcript at the end of your degree.
Alternatively, there is the vast array of sporting teams and societies – from canoeing to ultimate frisbee – which help to promote teamwork and enhance social skills in a fun atmosphere outside of the lecture theatres. It’s in these environments where, if you are skilled and motivated enough, you can progress to a higher level. One of the most notable figures to have done so is Lord Sebastian Coe, who both studied and trained at Loughborough.
When it does come to actually applying for jobs, the level of support and opportunities that are presented to students surpassed my wildest expectations. Currently, employers are touring campuses advertising their vacancies for both internships and graduate jobs, and are generally put into one handy event: a careers fair. Here you can find a whole host of information from leaflets, as well as being able to speak to current employees about whether the job is right for you, what it entails, and how best to present your application to the company.
It is at these fairs that the majority of students are easily able to decide which work areas interest them, and get a real sense of working life before they leave the university bubble. While my course doesn’t involve a placement year, it is interesting for me to look at the wide range of employers who are looking for graduate students, most of whom I would never have previously considered. It is a comfort to know that when I begin applying for graduate jobs, I can receive all the help I need from my education faculty.
However, despite the sheer amount of opportunities that become available to students at university, I do sometimes wonder: are people asking too much of us? Because whilst yes, these activities are designed to help us gain skills and grow as a person, we are primarily here to gain our chosen degree and, I’m sure for many, to have fun. So it does beg the question, if you really want to succeed does it mean forfeiting the traditional university social experience?
Sarah Cottam is one of British Future’s Generation 2012 bloggers from around the country. Read another piece she wrote for British Future on Vouchers and ready meals: a lesson in student economics.