Developing valuable employability skills

By Melissa Kievit, 3rd year Sociology

This is a sentence I sometimes struggle with. How can you develop the skills employers find attractive during your studies? Every co-curricular activity offered usually promotes itself with the claim, “this is good for your CV”. This can be seen so often it can begin to seem unbelievable. However, through my three years at this university, I have realised that co-curricular activities and part-time employment do actually help you in developing your skills.

This year, I volunteered to be a Careers Service Ambassador and have learned about all the helpful tools and services the Careers Service offer, which will be valuable when looking for employment after graduating. As an Ambassador, I have had opportunities to develop valuable skills through, for example, interviewing employers and organising focus groups. The communication, research and networking skills developed during this will be very beneficial to me in the future.

A further positive thing about the Ambassador role is that it allowed me to apply for the STAR Award, another great initiative to develop your skills. As a participant of the STAR Award you are required to attend three skills development workshops. I attended a CV writing workshop, which gave me valuable insight in what employers look for in a CV. I also attended an assessment centre workshop, presented by a recruiter from Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Hearing from an actual recruiter what they would look for and what they like to see during assessment centres was extremely valuable and I feel much more prepared if and when I am required to attend an assessment centre as part of my graduate job search.

Participation in these co-curricular programmes has given me a great set of skills to build on, as well as a clearer insight in what skills employers find valuable and relevant. I am more confident in applying for internships and jobs and I am now more aware of the skills I possess and how these are valuable. However, being a third year I do wish I had started actively participating in these sorts of programmes earlier. I would definitely recommend that all students should participate in co-curricular programmes and to try and start this from as early on as possible. It might seem daunting during your first or second year, but it will definitely benefit you in the end. The earlier you start; the more opportunities you can take on to develop yourself.

You can get involved in a wide variety of co-curricular activities, offering you a chance to maximise your employability by developing your skills and Aberdeen Graduate Attributes whilst participating in activities outside your courses. For more information visit https://www.abdn.ac.uk/careers/skills-attributes/index.php

Applications to our STAR Award, Leadership Academy (for all students) and Career Mentoring (for postgraduates only) are currently open and close on Monday 28th January at 4pm.

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