Hello once again!
As a third year student, I have just finished my last ever lectures and seminars of university. From now until the end of the year it’s just essays and my dissertation to go! The end is in sight and every day I’m wishing I could go back to first year and relive my university experience, instead of having to think about the adult world which I am approaching at an alarming speed.
However, the adult world does not have to be a daunting prospect.
As a helper on the UCAS visit days for the department of Sociology, I had the chance to talk to quite a number of you on the topic of career options and the help the university would provide you with whilst you study here came up quite a lot.
Even though you haven’t even started your university journey yet, it’s worth considering where you want to be at the end of it. Sociology is actually one of the most diverse degrees in terms of career options available to you, with huge numbers of graduates going into areas such as human resources, marketing, social work and postgraduate study amongst many others.
But, if you’re like I was and are going to university with absolutely no clue of what you want to do afterwards, fear not. The university has a variety of different ways of educating and informing you about the world of career options available to you, and can even help you in the process of getting the jobs themselves.
To give you an idea about how your careers ideas may develop over your time here, here is a personal account of my encounters with the careers services during my time at university.
Freshers Week: Freshers Fair. Your first encounter with career options. Whilst you are browsing the colourful stalls, trying to gain as many free samples as possible and signing up to countless societies of activities you’ve never heard of but are intensely curious about, you are approached by someone carrying an iPad asking you if you’d like to sign up to a graduate careers website, such as Target Jobs, Milkround or Graduate-Jobs. You sign up, with no idea why. You’re only a week into first year, you’ve got loads of time before you need to even consider any of this. Still, it will come in handy later, right?
Autumn Term: Careers talk within lecture. A representative from the Careers service at York comes into one of your lectures to talk to about the online Careers service available to you. She tells you what you need to log into the site, how to personalise the preferences shown to you, and gives you advice on the steps you should begin to take now, even though you’re only in first year.
Spring Term: Careers workshops and talks. A number of sessions are set up by the Careers department specifically for Sociology students; such as CV Writing, effective interview techniques and talks on working in specific areas of employment – such as the criminal justice system or the prison system (especially interesting for those of you on the criminology pathway, though these talks are open to all sociology students and free to attend). These events take place throughout the year and some even occur every year so if you miss one, you can always go to it the following year.
Autumn Term: postgraduate talk. Sometimes, three years just isn’t enough time to enjoy the university experience and many students want to continue studying; to put them ahead in the job market, to take the next steps towards a career in academia or simply to delay going into the “real world” for another year. Either way, the Sociology department hosts talks on the postgraduate options available to you, so you can discover if you think postgraduate study is something you wish to do.
Summer Term: careers evening (complete with wine and nibbles). This evening was open to all social science students and involved a number of talks from various career areas including the police, charities and NHS management schemes, amongst others. These talks may spark your interest in a career that you had never even considered beforehand, so are definitely worth attending! You also have the opportunity to talk to the speakers during the wine and nibbles reception after the talks have finished – a feat which will help you when meeting prospective employers in the future.
Summer between Second and Third year: browsing careers websites. At the end of second year, it may suddenly dawn on you that you only have one year left of university and if you still haven’t decided on what you want to do then now is the time to do some serious research! The University of York careers website has many handy links to the different kinds of jobs available, with the skills you’ll need for them and what will make you a stand-out candidate. The careers website also has a number of both part-time jobs and volunteering opportunities which will also look great on your CVs. Those graduate job services you signed up to in first year are also worth a look now too!
Autumn term: careers fair. By far one of the most informative careers events where highly influential graduate employers (such as L’Oreal, Virgin Media and Sky) set up stalls on campus and give information about the various graduate jobs and schemes they offer. This is also a brilliant opportunity to talk not only to the employers themselves but also graduates who are currently on the advertised schemes and find out what the schemes are really like.
Careers meeting. These are available to you from your first year, but I booked one to help with my CV writing before I started the process of applying to graduate schemes. This is the most personal careers service offered by the University, as they are one-to-one discussions with a careers specialist to discuss anything you feel you need help with: from writing CVs to discovering which career path would be best suited to your skills. The meetings are very informative and you can make follow-up appointments and maintain contact with the specialist via email for further guidance. Also, if you apply for a job and get an interview, you can also book a mock interview with the careers service in order to prepare you for the real thing!
After all these (and more), you’ll feel a lot more prepared for the future. Unfortunately, however, the university doesn’t organise any events for learning how to wake up at 6am every morning after three years of university sleeping patterns…
Enjoy the visit days if you’re yet to go to one and have a relaxing Easter break!