Undergraduate Careers Manager, Hilary, shares her advice on how you can develop your employability skills whilst at university.
Undergraduate careers coach, Giorgia, shares her advice on how to make the most of networking opportunities on campus.
We’re halfway through autumn term, where has that time gone? This first term in the academic calendar is the busiest for all of us but is particularly busy for the recruitment cycle for early careers programmes. October to December sees companies ramp up their promotional efforts of their programmes, and also sees students try to navigate their way through the first term of their academic studies, whilst also ensuring they’re submitting quality applications for the numerous opportunities they’re interested in.
Networking is not only a good skill to have but also a brilliant way of sourcing opportunities that aren’t even advertised. Ever heard of the saying “it’s who you know, not what you know”? Well, that’s what we mean. We have a number of alumni in graduate roles as a result of networking. One particular alumna sourced her year abroad work experience in Spain with a well-known accounting firm by building a professional network and performed so well that the company offered her the chance to build her own graduate scheme.
Have you felt the buzz on campus these last few weeks? The opportunity to network is at its highest in October and November, and we’re here to advise on how to make the most of it all in 3 easy steps:
- Look at who is scheduled to attend each event, make a plan of who you want to speak to and sign up if it requires you to do so.
- What do you want to know? Prepare a list of questions and conversation topics to go armed with.
- Plan your time – get there early, the later you attend the busier the event will be.
- Prepare your elevator pitch – be prepared to ‘tell your story.’
- Introduce yourself, shake hands, and set a strong first impression.
- Take business cards, and make some notes.
- Connect later on LinkedIn and follow up with a message thanking them for their time.
- Follow up quickly – do you want to know more? Can they help you with your application?
Feel uncomfortable at networking events?
Change your perspective – networking done well feels like an organic conversation and not an interrogation. Focus on listening to understand, not listening to respond.
Identify common interests whilst you’re there to enhance your career, getting to know someone is a sure-fire way to build a strong relationship that will add value to your career in the long term.
What can you give someone at these events? You don’t have to be all-knowing, or an expert in their field, simply showing someone gratitude for their time and energy is enough to leave someone feeling they’ve earned their money that day.
How can you get involved?
There are innumerable ways to network on campus during the first term of the academic calendar, not only offered by the dedicated WBS CareersPlus team but also by the central careers offering, Student Opportunity. This term at WBS, we’ve had multiple sector insight festivals, we’ve visited the Shard for the WBS UG Bootcamp where students have been able to work with AlphaSights, Boston Consulting Group, L’Oréal, IBM, and Vertex, and we also have our Professional Networks event with opportunities to network with those beyond university.
We’ve also had employers join us to share their knowledge on how to develop skillsets; Bel UK joined us to share their insights on what makes a standout application, and AlphaSights shared their insights into networking. Soon to come will be our Severn Trent Bootcamp, where a select number of students will be offered the chance to visit Severn Trent’s headquarters and hear from them on how they use strengths-based recruiting and how to best prepare for this. These are just some of the ways you can engage in and practice your networking skills.
You can also get in touch with our Undergraduate Careers team directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can make the most of the plentiful networking opportunities here on campus.