The mistake of not understanding your objectives

It’s easy to get sucked into university life. Many of the courses can be intensive, and spare time is often spent studying or out enjoying the local nightlife. With so much going on, some of the important things can be forgotten.

When the typical student is asked to list their priorities, good grades and a strong final degree classification are almost always at the top of the list. It’s perfectly logical, however when you have this as your number one objective, the goals that you set yourself are usually short term.

Writing a good essay, revising a topic, passing an exam; these are the goals that structure most students’ aspirations.

If this is the case for you, then it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Why are you at university? When considered in this way, the answer isn’t to get a good degree classification; it’s for increased job opportunities.

What are these increased opportunities?

While there are many ways of cashing in your degree certificate for a career role, the most common is via graduate schemes. They’re often talked about and understood as a possible route to take, however not a lot of students are aware of the timeline that you need to follow to take advantage of this option.

Essentially, it isn’t a quick or even easy path to take, and it starts earlier than you’d think.

Just how early is early?

There’s a lot to do to secure a place on graduate schemes: it isn’t just updating your CV and writing a good cover letter.

You need to start thinking about what graduate schemes you want to aim for before your final year of studies. Most graduate schemes start their application processes around September of your final year, which means that you need to begin researching schemes before you return from the summer holidays.

There is no strict schedule that applies across the board, so it always helps to be as organised as possible. Once you’ve decided on the schemes you would like to apply to, add the key dates and deadlines to a calendar. The close dates for applications are often in February but this varies, and can also be subject to change depending on the number of applicants received.

Am I too late?

If you’ve missed the main deadlines, then don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’ve completely missed the boat.

Plenty of schemes reopen their applications in May and June for a top up of applicants, and a small number accept applications all year round. Make sure that you keep an eye out on scheme websites, and sign up to notification emails if possible.

Another option is to apply the following year. Graduates don’t have to apply to these courses in the final year of studies, however it significantly increases the odds of being accepted onto a course if the application is made within three years of graduation.

Is there anything else I can do to help my applications?

Being first in the door with a good CV and cover letter is certainly important, however people often forget about relevant experience.

Use your personal and family connections as much as possible to help achieve this; showing initiative can quickly separate you from the pack.

By building experience early, you will also find yourself making industry connections. These connections can be invaluable, either as references, or potentially as your employers. Industry experience will also enable you to determine whether you will enjoy your earmarked career.

How can I get industry experience?

Friends and family are a great way to help, however you can also choose to use a free professional service to engage with employers and try out different industry roles.

Talent Trending was created to provide a way for candidates to develop and demonstrate skills, while building relevant experience and getting an insight into how different roles would work for them.

If you’re interested in separating yourself from your peers, then sign up to Talent Trending to get started on the path to finding your ideal role.

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