Most careers fairs sound a bit like a broken record. Work hard and you will succeed. Get relevant work experience. Go to a CV workshop. It all sounds so familiar but this careers day was different. Organised by students for students it was more than just clichés and repetitive sayings, it was aimed at engaging with the next generation of science graduates, showing them what’s really out there and helping them succeed.
The careers fair organised by Third Year Oceanography student Jade Martin and a team of fellow students. The employers came from a wide range of backgrounds and were aimed at recruiting not just the recently graduating but students of all years, from a variety of degree backgrounds. Just because you study marine biology doesn’t mean you are going to spend the rest of your life looking at fish.
Over 30 firms came to a busy NOC to tell students about their firms and attract future employees. A panel was organised with past Alumni to ask them about what they are doing now, how their degree from Southampton helped and any other student based questions like how they got into the industry they are now in and are gap years after university damaging to job prospects?
The careers fair was refreshingly optimistic – jobs are out there for graduates, work experience is out there with expenses paid quite often, and you can change your mind and swap industries with relative ease if you do a conversion course or show you have basic transferrable skills.
Industry advice is:
- Apply for lots but make each company feel special in your application – so many graduates, so much choice. Apply for lots so you get your name out there and there is a higher chance of getting something but don’t use a generic letter – they can tell and companies recruiting at the same time do talk to each other. It’s a bit embarrassing if two employers can read the same letter back to each other with the only difference being the name and address
- Pester firms – emails, phone calls, letters – it makes sure the firm know you are interested in them
- Proof read – don’t write the wrong company name or leave a half finished sentence – those applications go straight in the bin. Harsh but true!
- Be proud of your non-relevant work experience. Selling pies at Greggs might not sound very relevant but it shows great people and communication skills, commitment and a good work ethic!
- Ask your lecturers – it’s surprising who they know and where the latest job vacancies are, and it’s not always in academic work remember they get paid to help external agencies so they quite often know the right people to get in touch with.
Perhaps the real question is should more careers fairs be student led? It takes a lot of time, effort and commitment which is difficult to juggle alongside a degree, and we do have paid careers members of staff. Yet the results from a student run event are firms which have a real interest in the students and are from a wide range of sectors not just the type cast for graduates of a certain degree discipline.