How to stand out was one of the questions I was asked. I had been invited to be interviewed by university undergraduate Erin Collins at an “In conversation with” event run by St Hild and St Bede College, Durham University
How to stand out is front of mind for many undergraduates. Especially those who are graduating this year. With the pandemic, there are fewer job opportunities. As many of these students have not been able to do work experience. Normal extra curricular activities that they would be doing at university are not taking place. In fact the majority of students are at home: what an experience.
I was one of a number of alumni of the university who have been invited to be interviewed by students on their careers. At a time when a traditional idea of a “career path” is very unclear, the college very cleverly selected alumni who have had varied careers. See my career path. This showed the students that we often have different roles and experiences throughout our working lives.
The final question I was asked was “What can students do to find jobs?” Fortunately I had done my homework! I had been asking business owners with employees what they were doing. In every case they told me that they were not taking on new staff, including new graduates and apprentices. In fact their focus was trying at all costs to keep existing staff.
This is a tough message to share. So I thought about how to provide some advice. And it was “Do something”. Do anything that will make you stand out from the pile of other graduate CVs. This is how to stand out.
So what CAN you do?
Of course students are studying, but they aren’t meeting up with friends! And it is unlikely that college and university societies, practicing for performances and sports are going ahead. So this is a time to do other things. And make sure they are on your CV!
Here are some ideas:
- Volunteer as a trustee. We always think that trustees HAVE to be very experienced lawyers or accountants. But many organisations would welcome a young person with a fresh perspective on challenges. Look for small local charities.
- Start a podcast! There are some low cost ways to create one. Have a go, have some fun. Perhaps talk about being a student in lockdown!
- Likewise you could create a VLOG about being a student in lockdown. Have fun doing this.
- TikTok – have some fun!
- Why not write a blog?
- Tutor children who have got behind during the lockdown. There are lots of sites where you can register; get trained and support children.
- Netgalley gives you the opportunity to review books before they are published! There is a wide variety of book titles: fiction and non-fiction. Why not select a genre of book and review a number of them. It looks great on your CV.
- Fundraising for a local charity. There are lots of challenges to raise money. Have a go!
- Volunteer to phone and speak to an elderly person. Age UK has a number of volunteer opportunities
- Likewise volunteer to walk the dogs of elderly people with the Cinnamon Trust
Doing something like this makes you different. You can stand out with your cv because you are doing something!