English Literature graduate Kayleigh describes for us her approach to exploring her career ideas while studying for her degree.
Kayleigh’s current role: Graduate Management Development Programme at Sheffield Hallam University
A two-year programme to train people as managers in Higher Education, whilst developing their understanding of different areas of the University.
Previous role: Careers and Employment Graduate Intern at Sheffield Hallam University
An 11 month internship supporting employability programme, events, workshops and assisting with other tasks as required.
As an English literature student I spent a lot of my degree worrying about what I would do at the end: what job did I want, would my degree get me there, did I have enough experience?
Subsequently I gathered work experience in a variety of areas, exploring options such as journalism, teaching and the voluntary sector whilst complementing this with help from the Careers and Employment service. It’s fair to say that I took a scattered approach to work experience, finding roles in many areas of work that I thought I might pursue (to see some of the work I undertook at university view my LinkedIn profile).
As a result, I did find a career path that I wanted to follow in the remarkably quick time of two years at university: I realised that I wanted to go into management, preferably in Higher Education (universities).
All of my work experience provided benefits in one way or another during my graduate job search. I developed specific skills, such as writing for charities, mentoring and teaching alongside softer skills, like public speaking, engaging different audiences and initiative at work. None of these have been irrelevant despite the fact that they weren’t obviously in a management context, however they all developed skills that are valuable in the workplace, beneficial regardless of what career you choose.
In fact, when reflecting on small pieces of work that I have done I can now see how it links into my current role on the Graduate Management Development Programme.
For instance, when I was in my final year at university I was participating in the Career Impact Scheme (a programme of employability skills sessions designed by the Careers and Employment team to aid students with their graduate job search). On this programme we had a social media talk which particularly interested me and led to some voluntary social media work that I took on outside of my degree; this in turn supported my recruitment process for my internship (which preferred candidates to have some social media experience) and the internship subsequently strongly reinforced my application for the Graduate Management Development Programme.
The reason for all this? To encourage you to find out your professional interests whilst you have access to the opportunities around the city, the support from the Careers and Employment team and the luxury of not needing a job immediately.
University is undoubtedly a busy time but you can get some flexible work experiences volunteering since the majority of organisations will work around your assignments and exams, which will put you steps ahead of other graduates when it comes around to applying for jobs.
It is possible to balance both university life and improving your employability so have a go- if you need a kick start then why not book an appointment with a Careers Adviser to talk through what possible careers options you have, or with an Employment Adviser to look for opportunities suitable for you?