Supporting your career: how UK universities can enhance your employability

27 March 2019 | Advice for International Students | Guest Author

Article adapted from a blog post by Amber Philips, a current student majoring in French and Spanish at University of Kent.

When looking at different international universities to apply to, one of the most important things you’ll be thinking about will be how your time at university will help you to get a job. Luckily, universities in the UK are extremely career-focused and provide loads of opportunities to boost your employability alongside your degree. This means that you can graduate not only with a worthwhile qualification in your chosen field, but with transferable skills and work experience too.

Most UK universities have a dedicated Careers and Employability Service that host regular events and workshops, such as CV checks, throughout the academic year. At the University of Kent, they run an Employability Points Scheme, which allows you to earn points on activities that boost your employability, with the chance to win rewards and apply for exclusive internships at the end of the year. Wherever you choose to study, I would highly recommend taking advantage of your university’s careers service as they will have so many resources and contacts to offer you.

University academic departments also tend to offer many additional subject-specific activities, including departmental networking events, to boost your employability during your time in the UK. Keep an eye out for opportunities for a year in industry or additional years that you can add on to your degree to expand your skills and enhance your employability – at Kent, we have the option of adding a Year in Computing, a Year in Data Analytics, or a Year in Journalism to our degrees.

Furthermore, some modules may offer the chance to combine taught content with volunteering or work experience. For example, I’m currently studying an ‘In the Classroom’ module, where I spend half my time in lectures and the other half volunteering as an assistant teacher for languages in a school. It’s really rewarding as it allows me to gain work experience alongside my studies, even if the early school mornings were a shock to the system at first!

Even as an international student, lots of courses at UK universities will offer you the option of studying or working outside of the UK for a term or longer as part of your degree, giving you a fantastic chance to experience another new country, make new friends, and enhance your employability. A recent report by Universities UK (Gone International, March 2017) found that students who study or work abroad are more likely to earn a first or upper second-class degree, have higher employability skills and be in a graduate level job or earning 5% more in the six months after graduation than those students who don’t study or work abroad.

If you want to stand-out from other graduates in today’s highly competitive global job market, spending time in more than one country as part of your degree could be invaluable. At Kent, for example, there’s a wide choice of work and study abroad destinations including Europe, US, Japan and China.

Even if you decide not to leave your university campus, lots of the activities you take part in during your university life will be unexpected sources of transferable skills too. For example, serving on the committee of your favourite society will demonstrate a wide variety of skills, such as leadership, organisation and good communication. So even pursuing your hobbies at university, however unrelated to your subject, can look valuable on your CV.

There’s no need to worry about how your time at university in the UK will help you to get a job in the end – your university will already have that covered. There are loads of opportunities for you to take advantage of, meaning that you can graduate with a range of skills and experience under your belt as well as academic knowledge.

 

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