Meet Kayleigh. She’s one of our graduates who decided to take up a one-year placement as an intern to help improve her employability. Here’s her story:
Degree: English Literature BA, graduated in 2013 with First Class honours
Current job title: Careers and Employment Graduate Intern for Sheffield Hallam
Early on in my studies I realised that leaving university and getting into a graduate job should not be viewed as a right for a graduate: I had to consider my employability throughout my degree. English DOES make you employable because you will leave university with analytical, negotiation and communication skills (to name a few). But only a small number of graduates will appeal to employers if they only draw upon skills that they have acquired academically. You should show that you have developed these skills and have gained new, complementary ones in other roles, whether that’s through part-time work, volunteering, joining a society or taking part in other extra-curricular activities like sport.
For example, during my first year at university I worked as a Student Course Ambassador and an Exam Invigilator whilst also volunteering as a Student Course Representative and a Faculty Representative. As a result, I developed my communication skills in a variety of ways and had interview experience under my belt just from that first year. There is an extra-curricular activity to suit everyone, so I’d advise you to visit the Careers and Employability Centre or the Students’ Union to find something to suit you.
Here are some of the tasks I’ve been working on as a graduate intern:
- I undertake a variety of roles within the Careers and Employment Centre. Primarily I help organise and deliver the Career Impact Programme, am the Career Mentoring Scheme administrator, write tweets for the @SHUCareers account, manage the Career Impact LinkedIn page, organise meetings and work on both the Employment team and Information team for the Careers and Employability enquiry desk.
- Alongside this I have also been involved with the launch of our new Careers and Employability Centre, including meeting the Vice Chancellor, contributing photos and feedback to the ‘SHU employability blog’, promoting the events and building relationships with relevant and important employability organisations, such as Hallam Union, the Sheffield Universities Recruitment Fairs (SURF) and the Research and Innovation Office.
- I have created a strong relationship with the Students’ Union, conducting presentations with them to present a united employability front to the students; I have developed this further by starting a Students’ Union drop-in in the Careers and Employability Centre for students to talk to a Students’ Union representative every week about volunteering, joining a society or applying for the Hallam Award recognition scheme.
- I supervise the Employability Ambassadors on a daily basis to review their role, conduct focus groups for the Careers and Employment service and am their first contact when they have any work-related queries.
- Although I have developed a social media specialism within my job I also regularly use my English Literature skills to analyse data, write reports, articles and training documents for my colleagues and the service.
I’m three-quarters of the way through my internship now, and during that time (and the other experience I gained as an ambassador, rep and invigilator) I’ve upped my skills in so many ways. I’m an experienced organiser, event planner, and supervisor now. I’ve worked with a huge range of people – from students to employers to senior academics at these events and have used those opportunities to promote the services we offer.
I’ve learned to listen to feedback, conduct focus groups, to collate it and present it, and to present it to help influence change and improvement. And yes – I still love literature (as a staff member I can still use the learning centres here to borrow books!).
My internship finishes in July so I’m now focussing on the completing my employability journey and I am hoping to continue working in Higher Education- at Sheffield Hallam if I can!. Here are my top tips for yours…
My employability journey
Reflect upon your potential career and find a few graduate jobs that you would like to do
Look at job applications for that sector and identify any skills that you’re missing
Consider how you may use those skills in your current paid and unpaid work
Locate some volunteering, activities or societies so that you can develop the missing skills
Regularly reflect upon the work that you’re doing and make a note of when you have excelled, faced challenges and/ or brought about a change
When you’re in your final year at university continue your paid and unpaid work because it shows organisational and time management skills
However alter your workload so that you do less work and if you’re volunteering, ensure that it is flexible so that you can do less during important academic periods
Consider doing work-based learning modules so that you get experience, skills and personal professional reflection whilst gaining academic credit
Remember your large amount of experience and employability skills when applying for jobs during both the application stage and the interview
Never give up. If you’ve put the effort in to make yourself employable then you will get a graduate job, so don’t get disheartened if you have a few unsuccessful interviews
Utilise the help available to you. The Careers and Employment service offers help to all SHU students and are still here to help for up to three years after you graduate. The whole graduate recruitment process can be confusing, so use the professional advice that the Careers and Employment Advisers offer. Come into the Careers and Employability Centre to the left of the Owen building entrance or ring 0114 225 3752.