Your final semester at uni is filled with a greater workload, greater pressure and the simultaneous dread and relief that the end of uni is drawing near.
You’ve made it through countless all-nighters, nightmarish group assignments and the torture that is 9am lectures, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re in your grad cap and gown holding that degree you’ve worked so hard for.
Whilst the end of essays and exams couldn’t come quicker, your final semester is crucial to setting you up for success upon graduating. Do it right and you’ll find yourself with good contacts, great results and hopefully a job offer waiting for you. Do it wrong and that degree could all be for nothing; as of 2015, 69% of graduates are employed in full-time work within four months of graduating - don’t let yourself fall into the 31%.
So, before you graduate here are the key things to do to ensure you’ve made the most of your time at university and will actually have an answer to “What are you doing after graduation?” (Trust us you’ll be hearing this a lot).
Network, network, network
As much as the word ‘networking’ makes you cringe it really is true that it’s “not what you know, it’s who you know”. Networking is a crucial skill you’re going to need throughout your career and you may as well master it early – it could be that one person who’ll help you land your dream job. Go to your university's careers fair, get yourself set up to join the alumni network upon graduation, and buddy up to your fellow course mates – you never know if they’ll end up being a valuable contact in the future. And your tutors aren’t just there to give you a credit when you deserved a distinction – most of them have a load of industry experience and contacts, so pick their brain. If you’ve got an internship start putting out the feelers there for potential job opportunities, get your references organised and try and learn as much as possible from the employees there.
Another way to forge new connections and solidify the networks you’ve made is to set up a LinkedIn account. Essentially; “If you don’t have a LinkedIn account you don’t exist in the professional world”. Setting up a LinkedIn is an effective way to connect with people you’ve managed to ‘network’ with as well as to extend your network to people in your potential job field. LinkedIn acts as your digital CV, and is one of the first place potential employers will look before hiring so try and polish it up – it’s better to have no LinkedIn account than one with no profile picture and info other than your name.
Fix up your resume
Your current resume may have been good enough when you were 16 and applying for a part-time job at Maccas, but chances are your resume needs some polishing up before entering the professional world.
Your resume is of the most critical tools in your job search and recruiters spend approximately six seconds looking at your resume- so you need to make that time count.
Make it succinct, use correct grammar and include only relevant information – they don’t need to know the ins and outs of your debating career in high school. “Ideally, a new grad’s résumé is a focused one-page marketing document, with a succinct job goal that molds the résumé writer’s descriptions of each previous job and related experience”
For a complete guide on how to make you resume dream-job worthy read this:
Most poor uni students probably don’t feel like doing extra work for free, but interning will pay off in the long run. Taking on a student internship will allow you to gain valuable hands on experience and learn essential skills for your job field, making you much more hirable come graduation. Interning is also a key opportunity to help you get a feel for the job field you’ll be entering and whether or not it’s for you, as well as to help you figure out your career goals and what particular field of your industry you want to work in.
If all goes well your internship could lead to potential job offers or could provide the reference that’ll land you your dream job; regardless employers look for prior experience and without an internship you’ll be disadvantaged when looking for a job.
Try to boost your grades
Don’t fall into the mindset of “P’s get degrees” and sit back and coast now that your degree is nearly at its end; rather use your short time left at uni as momentum to get a GPA you’re proud to put on your CV.
Your marks may not be the most important factor when getting hired, but employers certainly look for a good GPA and this will give you an edge in the job search.
Besides, this the last time when your only responsibility is to learn, so revel in that and try and apply this mindset when studying for your final exams and writing your final essays. Use brain-boosting study hacks to make your study time as effective as possible, try nootropics to focus, and use slow, steady method to make sure everything sinks in.
Get an idea of your career goals
Most importantly of all, before you graduate reevaluate your career goals. One size doesn’t fit all and don’t feel pressured to follow one career path if you don’t feel passionate about it. Do you even want a job straight out of uni? Or would you rather take a gap year like you’ve always dreamed? Further learning is also on the cards – you could stay at uni to do a masters degree.
Whatever it is get a clear idea so you don’t feel lost upon graduation, and if you need help book an appointment with your university’s career consultant (yes you do have one – I was surprised too).
WORDS BY CLAUDIA STACEY-MURRAY