How you plan and use your time is different for each person, including how and when you want to consider what to do after your studies. However, using your time well and planning ahead to take advantage of available opportunities, I would like to suggest is a valuable skill that you should develop and use throughout your degree and for your future career.
We have some suggestions on the Careers Service website to get you started on some useful things to start thinking about during your studies whether you are a first, second or final year undergrad or a postgrad student.
It is important to dedicate some of your time alongside your time to study to consider your future plans and anything you may need to do to get the job or career you want. It is never too early to make plans so let’s look at some examples how effective planning can be helpful in more detail.
What are some of the benefits of planning and using your time well to support your career?
1. Planning space regularly in your schedule for careers related activities allows you to work through possible options gradually over time, rather than all at the last minute and then making decisions under pressure. It gives you a better chance to not forget anything that you need to think about or need to do as part of the process. This could include:
- Time to researching types of jobs and what they entail or comparing different job roles
- Accessing advice and guidance on what options are available to consider with your degree
- Researching when internship and graduate scheme application opening and closing dates will occur for companies of interest including checking CareersLink regularly
- Getting advice and researching any other specific entrance or course requirements to action in time to progress into your career. i.e aptitude tests or professional memberships.
- Each industry area will have things to remember to do. Some industry areas have more strict recruitment processes including medicine, nursing, law, finance, teaching and science. Careful planning is needed to use your time wisely.
- Reflecting on what is most important to you for your future to help you be clear about the career or job you want. Prospects Career Planner can help too.
- Identifying any gaps in your skills that are needed for the job that you want. Use our Employability Audit to start this process. Then put a plan into action of how to gain these skills and to develop yourself with work experience or volunteering, so that you can be ready for the role you want
- Allowing time to make connections with people, companies and build your network of contacts to find some work shadowing or job opportunities
- Search and apply for work experience or jobs to get what you want in time, for example, for a summer internship or a graduate role. You may want to combine work experience as well as having a holiday with family or friends.
2. Planning your time well enables you to organise yourself to give enough time to write a good application and prepare well for Interviews
- Giving attention to detail to tailor each application or CV to each employer is important to show your skills and experience well. It looks more focused, shows the effort and your ability to give attention to detail and helps the employer find the skills and qualities they want as you have considered your application carefully for the role and their needs – it will show and employers do notice!
- Researching the company and industry to improve and develop your commercial awareness in the industry that interests you over a period of time will help in gaining a more in-depth knowledge and make it easier to supplement this with any additional research about the specific company you have applied to or as part of preparing for interview,
- Giving time to think through and prepare examples of your skills or competencies that are relevant to the role, as well as considering possible answers to other questions that you think the employer will ask you about the job or your application is important. Being thorough and well prepared for an interview creates a positive impression of you to the employer. It also gives you more confidence that you know what you are talking about and can articulate your answers better.
3. Planning your time well doesn’t mean you can’t change plans you make, but instead it allows you time to develop your plan further, be free to review, change and adapt if needed, rather than making decisions in the moment without thinking through your ideas.
How do I get help with planning my future career?
- You could try our quick CareersKickstart questionnaire which can help you to see what to do next.
- Come and talk to us in the Careers Service in person or on the phone so we can help you in your career plans
- Check out the different degree year tabs (first, second, third year or postgrad) on the Careers Service website for suggestions to do right now
- Check out the ‘I don’t Know what to do’ guide in our starting point guides section
- Identify where and how to develop your skills for job applications and being aware of what you have to offer an employer