Written by Samantha Oates-Miller, Careers Insights and Graduate Support Assistant at the Careers Service
If you are starting a Master’s degree in September, there are lots of things you can start doing to boost your employability while you study. Here are eleven ways you can gain experience, develop your skills and grow your network during your Master’s. Do them all or just pick a couple, and boost your employability for when you graduate!
- Start by looking at our Making the Most of Your Postgraduate Study guide, for tips and ideas for your time at The University of Manchester. With advice from our Postgraduate Careers Consultant, this resource is full of useful tips.
- Joining a student society is a good way to boost your employability while having fun and making friends. Societies can help you gain practical skills, such as a sport or language, hard skills, like event planning or social media management, and soft skills that employers are looking for, such as leadership and teamwork.
- Get a part time job while you study. You could work in hospitality, as a tutor, or work for the University as a student ambassador or at the SU. Fitting a few hours around studying allows you to gain experience of the workplace and build key skills throughout the year. Try CareerConnect or the SU Job Shop for opportunities, or look out for emails from your course, school or faculty for how to get involved as an ambassador. Many places also hire extra staff around Christmas time, so consider looking for work in the holidays to gain experience too.
- Volunteering is another way to get experience, and gain some of the skills that your future employers will be looking for. For example, you could donate your time to the local community, volunteer at the Manchester Museum, take part in school outreach, or join the sport volunteer scheme. Use the SU Volunteering Hub to search for opportunities.
- Complete the Stellify Award. Volunteering, leading (such as through PASS, Societies, or Sports), and completing the Ethical Grand Challenges, all contribute towards Stellify. The award is part of the University’s commitment to social responsibility and will help you develop the soft skills you will need as a graduate.
- Find a placement for the holidays, or take a placement module if your course has one. Having work experience in your chosen sector can help you get ahead. Search for short placements for the Christmas or Easter break, or sign up for a placement module if you can.
- Do some virtual work experience. Forage offers free online work experience that can be completed in a couple of hours. With a wide range of employers offering experience opportunities, you can easily build up a portfolio of new skills and knowledge.
- Connect with your course mates, friends, lecturers and colleagues on LinkedIn and start building your network. Having a strong network will help you when you start searching for jobs. Having a large network will help you find hidden or speculative opportunities, get mentoring, and succeed in your applications. They may also help you find placements, work shadowing, or other work experience for during your master’s year.
- Attend Careers Service events. Use CareerConnect to search for events, where you could learn how to write a good application, meet employers or network with alumni. Make sure you connect with any employers or alumni you meet on LinkedIn too! Don’t forget you can also watch past events on the Careers Service YouTube channel.
- Research employers and roles that interest you. Find out what skills they are looking for, so you can prioritise gaining any you are missing during your course. Look at job descriptions to identify gaps in your CV, and then look for events, work experience or courses that can help you fill the gaps.
- Lastly, upskill in your spare time. Explore My Learning Essentials for workshops and resources. Take advantage of free online learning courses too: sites such as FutureLearn, Coursera or The Open University have a wide range of courses you can take. You could learn about commercial awareness, take a coding course, or explore specific industry skills.
Finally, don’t forget that the Careers Service is here to help! You can access resources, and events, opportunities and appointments on CareerConnect throughout your degree and for up to two years after you graduate. So whether you know exactly what your next steps are, or have no idea, get the support you need!
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