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Making yourself employable

When you come to Abertay it is time to start looking at the future. Of course you will want to have a good time - but you will also want to make the most of your time at University. To start with you will need to think about what employers are going to expect from you as a graduate.

The next step is to plan how to make sure you become the kind of graduate that will be attractive to these employers.

A degree is just a start…

There is no doubt that having a degree will open doors to the world of graduate opportunities, but now employers are looking for much more than just a degree. To compete effectively you will have to develop real skills and experience during your time at University.

What kind of skills do I need?

Employers are looking for people who stand out from the crowd. They want graduates who have real-life skills that can be applied to their organisations. Examples of the most popular skills on employers’ shopping lists are:

  • willingness to learn
  • self-motivation
  • team working
  • good communication 

Not only do you need these skills, but also, and most importantly, you must be able to demonstrate that you have them.

How do you get these skills?

Studying at Abertay

While you are at University you will learn many essential skills – how to manage and organise information, communication skills developed through seminars, how to make presentations and feel confident about public speaking, and working as part of a team on group projects.

Part-time work

A part-time job also offers the chance to develop these skills and to earn some money at the same time! Think about the kinds of job activities you might be doing, and try to identify the skills that will be of interest to an employer. For example, working in a call centre will develop your communication skills and your ability to work under pressure. Remember anything you do in the real world of work will be of interest to your future employer. Our Careers Service has job hunting advice where you can find help in getting a part-time job.

Voluntary work

A few hours a week volunteering for a local organisation will allow you to pick up some more skills - or plug the gap if you feel you have any areas which need development. Volunteering offers a huge range of opportunities from social care through to IT development and project management.

Relevant work experience

If at all possible it is worth trying to gain some experience that ties in with your career plans. Some courses at Abertay have work experience as part of the course and employers see this in a positive light. Large employers and other organisations also offer summer placements. It is, of course, also possible to organise relevant work experience yourself.

Being involved

There are so many opportunities to become involved in University life while you are at Abertay. Joining clubs and student societies gives you another dimension to your student life. Of course many of you will have long-term interests, which will also help in developing these skills. Remember employers like graduates who participate!

Higher Education Achievement Report

From July 2015, all students graduating from Abertay will be issued with an electronic Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), which will be a comprehensive record of not only your academic grades but also a wide range of other achievements such as academic prizes, sports awards, extra-curricular work and so on.  Your HEAR will support applications for employment and further study.  Find out more on the dedicated HEAR page on this site.

When should I start thinking about all of this?

It is never too soon to get started. Don’t leave it until your final year to try to make yourself more employable.

Developing the right kind of skills for the employment area that you are aiming for can take time and careful planning. So start the ball rolling in your first or second years.

If you are keen to get some relevant work experience then planning ahead is vital. Ideally, by the beginning of your second year you should already be approaching employers if you are going to stand a chance in gaining some of these highly sought after placements.

Where can I get help?

Careers Service

Our Careers Service is staffed by people who are there to help you make decisions about your future career. Take advantage of what they have to offer during your time at Abertay. Help can take the form of:

  • CV and interview advice
  • identifying suitable employers
  • job-hunting skills
  • access to vacancies and other opportunities. 

And much more… Look at the Careers Service website to see the range of activities on offer.

Academic staff

Many of your lecturers have extensive contacts with employers in your chosen field. Your academic tutor is on hand to talk to you about your future direction, be it employment or further study.

It’s up to you!

The modern job market is a very different place from the one your parents entered. New technology and changing work patterns means the idea of a job for life is a thing of the past. Organisations are much more flexible and graduates therefore have to be more adaptable in managing their own careers. This means that it is increasingly your responsibility to steer your career in the right direction. The opportunities are here at Abertay for you to further develop these essential skills that employers are looking for. But it is up to you to take up those opportunities!

Find out more

You can find out lots more about employment after university, part time work and how to make yourself employable after your course has finished by contacting the Careers Development Centre, here at Abertay University.