Careers Checklist for First Year Students

first insights conference written in black and white text on a red background next to an image of a female student

Written by Samantha Oates-Miller, Careers Insights and Graduate Support Assistant at the Careers Service

If you are in your first year, you might not have thought about your career yet. However, it is never too early to think about what you want to do after finishing your course and the Careers Service is here to help you throughout your degree. Read on to find out how you can start narrowing down your career interests and building your skills this semester.

  1. Attend the First Insights Conference

The First Insights Conference is taking place on Wednesday 16 March, 1-5 pm and is exclusive to all first year undergraduate students. The conference is a great way to find out about different career options. You will get to:

  • Learn about different sectors – During the conference, you will be introduced to three different sectors out of a choice of 12. These insights can help you evaluate your career interests and discover new ones. It might introduce you to a career you’ve never heard of before, cement your interests in a sector, or show you the key skills to develop during university.
  • Network with employers – Each sector session will have 1 or 2 employers present, to talk about opportunities at their organisation, explain the skills and experience they look for in graduates and give tips and advice. They will also answer any questions you have about the sector or different roles.
  • Connect with alumni – Each session will have an alumni panellist to talk about how they got their position, what they did during university that helped them, and describe the day-to-day activities they do in their role.
  • Understand how to boost your CV at university – Attending the conference will help you understand the skills and experience you can build during University. You will learn about the skills needed to succeed in each sector and discover how the Careers Service can support you with getting experience, developing your skills and growing your network.

Sound good? Register now and choose the sector sessions you want to attend before midnight on Wednesday, 9 March to secure your place.

2. Get work experience

Getting experience early can help you later, when you might find you are busier with your studies or have missed out on opportunities exclusive to first year students. Insight programmes, work experience and internships over summer are all ways you can build your skills while trying out different careers.

Work experience opportunities for first years are often called spring weeks or insight days. You might shadow a member of staff, get a tour and introduction to a company, or for slightly longer opportunities, get to work on a project. There are lots of ways to find first year opportunities, including some which are available within the university.

3. Build your skills

Another thing you can do this semester is extra-curricular activities. This might be joining a society and being on its committee, taking part in sports and coaching, volunteering or developing a new hobby. See how you can make the most of your time in Manchester this semester.

Societies and sports clubs are a great place to meet new people and develop your skills. Whether you take up something new or continue an existing hobby, you could build skills like teamwork, leadership and communication. If you are on the committee, you might also be able to show events planning, negotiation, decision-making and problem-solving skills.

Volunteering is another way to develop skills, and you might be able to try out different roles or sectors too. As well as supporting a good cause, you will gain valuable experience and get to try out a role you think you might enjoy. You can find out more about volunteering on our website.

There are lots of ways the Careers Service can support you this semester. Have a look at our website for more information and register for the First Insights Conference to get started. Many students wait until their final year to think about their careers, so get ahead of your peers by starting now!

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