Many graduate employers still look for strong academic performance as a minimum hurdle when screening candidates. It’s important then that you pay attention to your grades – and make sure they’re competitive enough for the field you’re interested in!
Take stock and ask yourself the hard questions
- It’s important to check in throughout your degree and assess if you’re still on the right track. Ask yourself: Is this course what I thought it was going to be? Am I enjoying what I’m learning? Does this degree lead to my career goals?
- If you’re answering ‘yes’ to the above, then start thinking about what you would like to major in and your electives. Talk to others about your subjects and career goals, whether it’s peers in the year above, lecturers or career advisers.
Just keep studying!
- Don’t drop the ball on your grades! If you’re struggling to balance study, then make a (realistic) study plan. Consider joining a study group if you need some extra motivation and accountability.
Prepare for your thesis
- If you’re planning on a final year thesis, begin thinking about topics you would like to explore and submit your proposal. Start networking with professors who you would like as a supervisor for your thesis.
- This is the year to have a particular focus on academic results, as grade point averages are usually heavily weighted towards final-year results.
- Employers who are using academic results to screen candidates will also place particular emphasis on final-year results, so make sure you prioritise your studies!
A great way to demonstrate to prospective employers that you’re fit for a role is to have a track record of strong performances in similar roles. Work experience can give you a head start in acquiring the skills needed to excel in the workplace.
Get a part-time job
- Whether it’s behind a bar or in a shop, a part-time job is a great way to gain some skills and see what you enjoy doing – plus a little extra pocket money never goes astray.
- Research vacation work and internships
- Think about the type of employer you might be interested to work for. Keep a log of those who offer vacation work or internships.
Apply for vacation work/internships
- Some internships have very early closing dates, so make sure you are aware of closing dates and deadlines.
Make an honest assessment of your work experience to date
- Work experience is about helping you get clearer on your career path. Ask yourself: Did I enjoy the work? Did I see any roles I was drawn to? Can I see myself working at this employer (or others like it)? How does this align with my career goals?
Take on greater responsibility
- Take a step up in your part-time job – the more challenging your experience has been, the more likely it is to stand out to employers.
- Think about how you can present your work experience as evidence to demonstrate your employability. For example, think about the skills you’ve developed or your formative experiences.
Community, volunteering & extracurricular activities
Most employers look at community, volunteering and extracurricular activities as an indicator of a ‘well rounded’ candidate. Getting involved in these activities can be great for building leadership and teamwork skills – and help your application stand out from the crowd.
- Now is the time to get involved – whether it’s a club or society on campus, volunteering or a sporting group – find things that pique your interest.
Cultivate your leadership skills
- Find ways to take on responsibility and leadership opportunities in your extracurricular activities such as organising a fundraising event for a club, captaining your sports team or becoming volunteer team leader.
Consider study abroad opportunities
- Exchanges usually take place in the penultimate year, so it’s important to get the ball rolling early in your degree. Do your research!
Work on your sales pitch
- Now that you have done extracurricular activities, think about how you can articulate them to employers. Focus on the skills you developed and how these relate to your career.
As they say, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. Not only does proactive networking help hone your interpersonal skills for the workplace, it may also help you get your foot in the door with employers.
Research mentoring programs
- Find out whether your faculty, college or university has any mentoring programs on offer. Connecting with a mentor early in your degree can be a great way to learn about career options and make contacts in your industry.
Leverage your existing network
- Ask people you know about their jobs and career choices – it will help you think about what you might like to do.
Research industry events
- Start to take part in industry events and talk to members of your target profession or specialisation.
- Attend information sessions/open days. Prepare questions tailored to each organisation and your specialisation.
Build your profile and networks
- Join LinkedIn and professional associations.
- Keep in touch with people you meet through work experience – thank them for their help and let them know how it has assisted you.
Make the most of your relationships
- Make the most of mentoring programs, professional associations – any interaction has the potential to open doors.
Career research & preparation
Choosing a career path can be daunting; make your decision easier by amassing the experience and knowledge required for an informed decision. If you’re clear on where your passions lie and have done your career research, it will be a lot easier to pinpoint the right employer for you.
Stay on top of careers advice and internship opportunities
- Subscribe to gradaustralia.com.au for the latest internship news.
- Drop by your university careers office to learn about the services they offer and attend careers workshops.
Draft a CV and cover letter
- Complete a first draft of a CV and cover letter. It may be a few years before it is used for graduate job applications, but completing an initial draft now will help you identify gaps and areas for improvement during your remaining time at university.
Review your CV and cover letter
- Add in new skills and experiences. Get your cover letter, CV and work experience applications checked by the careers centre.
Attend careers events and expos
- Check out employer events on campus, recruitment fairs and open days.
Prepare for interviews
- Get ready for interviews, assessment centres and psychometric tests.
- Check deadlines for internships and vacation programs.
- Clean up your social media.
- Make an effort to keep up to date with news and current affairs. Subscribe to a credible business newspaper or journals specific to your profession (student discounts are often available).
Research and prepare for graduate opportunities
- If you haven’t already, subscribe to gradaustralia.com.au and keep up to date with career advice and graduate job opportunities as they arise.
- Attend career fairs and employer events.
- Talk to a careers adviser if you need help planning for life after graduation.
- Keep a list of graduate application deadlines.
- Practise mock interviews and psychometric tests ahead of the real thing.