When I chat to students, most of the time I find that they are a little bit confused as to why they are attending a university. Don’t get me wrong, everyone knows why your parents want you to be there:
- Greater opportunities in the job market
- Higher salaries once you leave the uni.
However, what’s not clear in the student’s head, is why THEY want to be there.
The truth is, pretty much everyone has a degree nowadays. What’s worse, pretty much everyone has a Master’s degree too. So, getting yourself to stand out based on your education is becoming a lot more challenging. I have also chatted to a lot of employers, and quite often they are not even after the “best students”. Why? Because having the best ability to learn a lot of information and putting it down on paper to answer a pre-set question does not make you a good employee.
So, what will make you a good employee?
Although it can be argued that different employers are looking for different skill sets, this is only partially true. There are a number of characteristics that all employers are looking for:
- Hard worker.
- No excuses attitude
- An ability to time manage
- Creativity in problem solving
So, even if your grades are not brilliant but you can demonstrate all of the above in the interview, you are likely to be hired. The best way to demonstrate it, is to start putting yourself into situations where you can develop those skills. For example, getting a part time job while studying is a good way to develop your time management skills. Running any kind of project will allow you to develop creative problem solving skills. And all of those will show the employers that you are a hard worker and have a no excuse attitude.
Extra-curricular activities can also cover all of the above. Most universities in the UK will have an Employment Bureau which can offer volunteering vacancies. Get involved in this early, as employers are not fooled by a 2-month experience in your final year!
Hard work and a positive attitude can go a long way towards convincing an employer that you are the right candidate for them.