By Abi Azeez
My name is Abi and I recently graduated with a degree in Law from the University of Westminster. I chose my degree because it sounded interesting and would mean that I would have a lot of job opportunities waiting for me. Mid-way through my second year I knew I probably would not be pursuing a full-time career in Law, but I was not going to change my degree either. I decided not to apply for any graduate schemes because I was worried about being locked into a placement for another 2 or 3 years and doing something that I was not passionate about. Then the coronavirus outbreak began and there seemed to be a cloud of uncertainty looming over us final year students who realised they would be graduating during a global pandemic from home. With so much unpredictability in the job market, here are some of the things I have been doing to boost my employability.
Dust off that old CV and update your LinkedIn
In between studying for exams, hanging out with friends, and generally dealing with life, I had forgotten to update my CV and LinkedIn profile. I was horrified to see that I had not updated my CV word document since November 2019, despite all the extra-curricular I had taken part in over the course of my time at university. Do not be like me! You may have heard this already but that is because it is important: you should be updating your CV regularly and tailoring it to the jobs that you are applying for. Now is the time to think about any extra-curricular activities: sports clubs, debate clubs, student ambassadorships, volunteering or internships are all important experiences. Think about the skills developed from them and make them relevant to the job application. If you are like me and are unsure of where to start on writing or redoing your CV successfully, I recommend looking online for examples, taking a webinar session on it or if you are truly stuck, getting in touch with a careers service provider.
Take an online course
One of the most valuable ways I have been able to make the most of my time is through taking online classes. From budgeting courses to personal development, there is probably a class for anything and everything. Do you have a hobby you are not sure could turn into a full-time career? Are you interested in a particular area of study but never had the time to pursue it? Well now is your chance. Due to unprecedented times that we find ourselves in, loads of institutions have been offering free or discounted online courses for you to get involved in. Use this time to check out online resources on Future Learn, Udemy, General Assembly, and UKLearns – they are all great places to start. Some of these courses may also provide you with an online certificate that you can add to your LinkedIn account!
‘Networking’ is a word that sparks fear in my introverted heart, but I would like to think that I got better at it during lockdown. Where do you start? I recommend utilising LinkedIn and expanding your network, however, do not just click ‘connect’ and leave it there. Send the individual a personalised message explaining your situation as a university/graduate student, your desire to know about the industry they are in or the company that they work for and if they have time to answer any questions you have. From there, you should be able to narrow down your interests and can consider applying for an internship in that field if you are opposed or worried about committing 2-3 years on a graduate scheme.
Above all else, practice self-care. For me, living in London feels like everything is happening at once and too quickly, therefore, whilst I was at university my mental health suffered as a result. Looking back now, the stressful environment and intense workload left little time for me to wind down. During lockdown, I thought about advice that I could give to assist with this. So, my advice to you would be to put some daily or weekly measures in place of things that make you happy. Whether that is going to the gym, indulging in your hobby, having a spa day, or treating yourself to something nice, please make sure to schedule in time for yourself.
At the end of the day, I have learnt to not feel guilty if I find myself doing nothing with my time. You do not have to have every second of every day scheduled in with something to do. Leave time open and you might find yourself on a spontaneous FaceTime call with friends trying to play charades. More than that, you may find yourself working in an industry you had never considered but absolutely love.