I was thinking about my time abroad and why I decided to study away from home. I know I decided to do so because I wanted to have an international degree that would give me a chance of improving career prospects for the future. But I learned that the degree is not everything and it might not even be the most important factor in getting a job. So I put together some things I think might help you better your prospects in future job search and that you can do during your time at university.
I might have also done it because the Scottish Highlands look like this:
Take part in uni activities
Universities always offer extra-curricular activities and many opportunities for improving carrer prospects. You can take up a sport or continue with something you did in high school. Also, try engaging in organising the activities for the team. You can find a club that interests you in terms of your academic activity and get involved. This kind of activity will not only help you make friends and have something interesting to do in your free time, but also gain skills valuable for future employers. By engaging in clubs and societies you can learn many things from scratch or find a hobby you never thought you’d have. Getting organisational and team-building skills and having a great time at the same time. Employers value engagement and so called proactive attitude so practice it while still at university.
It can be great fun and obviously looks good on the CV. Volunteering abroad is still on my bucket list, but I am also looking for a good opportunity to travel. For those interested in this kind of thing there’s a number of opportunities. You can first look for any organisations based at your university or talk to your advisor. There are also independent organisations sending students all around the world, but be careful: read the reviews, check the company and any expenses related to this kind of volunteering program. If you don’t feel like going abroad, you can always find an opportunity where you live. Animal shelters, elderly people’s homes, helping out struggling students – everybody will find something suitable.
Go to all the career fairs and workshops
Your university definitely organises job fairs and employability workshops. Even if you’re at the beginning of your degree you can go to these events to get an idea of what the employers are looking for and what opportunities are there. There is also a number of events, such as this Job Fair, organised independently for international people. Look for CV writing workshops and internship fairs to get a good idea of what you can do while still at uni to make the best of your opportunities and improving career prospects.
Find a part time job
This one is obvious, but not everybody realises that getting any kind of job at uni will help you in future. Even if you get a job waiting tables it will be worth mentioning in an interview in the context of time and money management. The employers will see that you’re willing to work hard and sometimes make the necessary sacrifices. Plus, working in services and retail shapes character, believe me. I have also made really good friends at my part time job, so it’s not only uni that is good for that.
Look for summer internships
You get long vacations during uni. You can use this time to do something for your future. As much as I understand you will want to have time to travel, go on vacation and spend time with your family, you can always try cutting out some time for a 4-6 week long internship. I personally find it really hard to give up that time as I really love spending summer with my family, but I think that if you’re willing to organize your time well, you’ll also find an opportunity that will suit your needs.
Do remote jobs- translation, editing, programming
Instead of getting a part-time job where you live, you can do some freelance work. This one goes for those who study literature or languages, IT or anything that you can do remotely. If you’re studying abroad and want to start improving career prospects for yourself, I assume you already speak good English so you can find some translation gigs from English to your language. There’s a number of pages for freelancers, such as Upwork, and it’s a good way of supporting yourself at uni as you can flexibly combine it with your study time. Whether you’re thinking of being a freelancer in future or not, this will look perfectly on your CV- work experience, time-management, working on your own.
Have a blog
Well, that’s just my personal favourite. Having a blog can impress your employer both in terms of tech stuff and digital skills and writing skills. Even if it’s a low key blog, it also shows you’re proactive, observant and like to spend your time not only partying. If you don’t want to blog only about your life, blog about your interests (football, knitting, travelling, cooking, studying tips, etc, anything you like) and it will show that you’re an active, versatile person. If you make a blog around the degree you study, let’s say law, and write in-depth articles about the topics you have to study, it will demonstrate your knowledge and can also help someone. You can find some tips about how to start a blog at Neil Patel’s website or WPBeginner.
Take the opportunities for language courses
Chances are your uni provides English courses for international student free or at a lower price. Also, you can take a modern language course as part of your degree and even gaining a basic knowledge of another foreign language will beboost your chances in the future. With so many companies being global now and others expanding to new markets there’s a demand for employees with foreign languages knowledge. Go to language exchanges, you can look for them in Facebook groups for students of your uni, expats in the city or at sites like MeetUp. And take advantage of opportunities for some time in a different country even if you’re already studying abroad.
I had to take some time off Scotland to catch the sun of Spain:
Network all the time
Fairs, workshops, clubs, societies, language exchanges and any other activities like these are a good opportunity to network. You’re making friends, but have in mind that some of these contacts may come in handy in the future. Everybody knows how important it is to network these days. Share your stories, show your skills and talk to people, because chances are some of them will remember you when they know of a job for someone like you and this one might be the most important thing to do for improving career prospects.
Get your uni work done on time- practice your skills
That’s a big one. I have seen so many of my friends writing their essays on the last day panicking from stress. Well, there are people who can deal with any workload in one night just before the deadline with no stress. I have to admit I am not one of them. I am the actual opposite. So I learned to manage my time to minimise my stress. Cut your workload into smaller pieces, use all the time you have, don’t procrastinate too much cause the work and the stress will always catch up with you. I like to start my research and essay writing long before the deadline cause this way I can do very little work each day and don’t even feel like I’m studying hard. But if I had to cram it all into one day I would be dead. Teach yourself time and stress- management cause it’s 100% certain you’ll need it in future.
Travel – gain life experience
Well, obvious one. That’s why I think studying abroad is much more than getting a degree from a respected international university. The fact that you’re going abroad and starting your life there is already the biggest lesson you’ll learn and is improving career prospects for you just as it is. You can market your travels when looking for a job and you’ll how effective that is! Moving abroad is a struggle and as you tackle all the new difficulties and hardships you gain mental strength. In terms of employability- your future employer will know that. Compared to someone who studied in the same place they were born and lived with their parents, you’ll already be seen as more experienced and better prepared for any stress and challenges the work can bring.
Take your time
Finally, forget for a second about all that I said and remember that you’re in your early twenties and you have all the right in the world to enjoy this time. Improving career prospects is important, but do not stress too much about your future and have the time of your life at uni. I myself sometimes get the feeling that I am doing everything wrong in my life, but then I like to think that I still have time. Make good decisions, take advantage of opportunities that come your way, but take it easy.
These are only some ideas I had. Let me know if you’re doing anything else to improve your prospects that others could find useful.