UCL News


Six great ways to advance your career prospects this summer

19 May 2016

Many of you will have been fortunate to an internships already this summer and will be looking forward to the challenges, and benefits, that they provide.

Six great ways to boost your employability and advance your career prospects this summer But for those students who haven't reached this stage yet, or who perhaps aren't looking for an internship opportunity, there are plenty of other useful ways to spend the summer months.

It is important to understand that career-boosting activities for students do not start and end with internships alone. So, in this article we are letting you know what else you can do. For those of you who have secured an internship at the end of the article you can find out how to make the most of it.

1. All work is valuable for employers

From an employers' point of view, all work is good work as long as you are able to be reflective about your experiences, and understand (and sell) the transferable skills that you developed along the way. Don't be quick to write off opportunities because they don't align with your career aims.

Aside from the very practical benefit of earning money, however, part time work can also be very relevant - the summer can be a great time to explore opportunities within the temping market, giving you exposure to new industries whilst developing office based experience.

You can find opportunities for part-time work on many job sites including our own UCL JobOnline and UCL Talent Bank.

2. Volunteering

While it may not have the glamour of an internship, volunteering can be a very practical way of developing work related skills in a whole range of industry areas. This is not just for people looking to develop careers in the charity sector. Opportunities can cover a whole range of commercially relevant activities like marketing, business development, finance and technology.

Try UCLU Volunteering or browse the Do It website to see what's out there for you.

3. Research

The key to all good decision making lies in the planning and careers is no different. Use your time off from university to get to grips with the job market, to understand where your degree can take you, and to familiarise yourself with the difference career choices available.

Websites such as Prospects and TARGETjobs are a great starting point for information but don't forget to utilise in-house resources such as UCL JobOnline and UCL Talent Bank to see the variety of jobs on offer and to identify what employers are asking for, in terms of skills and experience. You'll have a head-start come September.

4. Networking

Can you hand-on-heart say to are doing everything to you can to utilise the networks you have around you? This is still a leading way to find work in the UK so make sure you are using your summer to talk to people you know about opportunities they may be aware of.

Attend networking events, speak to people about the jobs they do to increase your understanding of the world of work. Get LinkedIn savvy and start growing your web of contacts. Dip into the UCL Alumni Careers Mentoring Network to see if there is anyone there who can help you.

5. Reflect

Don't underestimate the benefits that can be gained from some good old fashioned thinking time. Evaluate what any practical experience has taught you about your own career aspirations. Work to identify areas that you enjoyed as well as roles that interest you the most. Can you see yourself working in a particular role or organisation, a specific industry…? If not, what would work better for you and why?

Don't forget to review your own developmental goals too - can you think of ways of plugging any skills gaps that became apparent? Has a recent practical experience made you appreciate your own capabilities to an extent that you now feel ready to target career opportunities that before felt unreachable? If you want to talk to someone about career planning or reflect on your skills and experience book an appointment with a Careers Consultant.

6. Making the most of your internship

Do your research beforehand. No one will expect you to know everything but having an idea of the challenges and priorities facing the organisation will get you off to a great start.

Ask questions (within reason) - this does not make you look stupid, it makes you look smart and curious. Be proactive and don't be afraid to make suggestions if you feel there is a better or clearer way of doing a task. Ask to get involved in extra projects or to sit in on particular meetings to learn more and immerse yourself in the experience.

Make the most of any mentors or supervisor you are assigned to find out about their route into the industry, the challenges they have faced and the advice they can give. Be receptive to any feedback they give you.

While their input is invaluable be sure to stretch your networks wider still. Go out of your way to meet with other people in the organisation and connect with them on LinkedIn so the benefits may continue beyond the internship itself.

So don't let the summer pass you by without making the most of the opportunities that it affords you. This is the time to get ahead, whether through practical exposure, defining what you want or widening your sphere of influence. Set yourself some summer goals to work towards so that your career aspirations are a step closer.

Rochelle Symons, UCL Careers