My experience with Student Opportunity & Warwick Careers Service
Jobs. It’s a touchy subject, especially at this time.
I’ll dive right in. If you’re currently searching for a job, feeling like a part of your soul is disappearing with every form and psychometric test, and even worse when the inevitable rejection email arrives, I am sorry. My older brother and I agreed that applying for jobs was one of the worst periods of university; the competition, the lack of clear advice and the feeling like you’re not good enough being confirmed with yet another rejection email is just soul-destroying. If you’re dealing with this, I take my hat off to you. There’s no easy solution. You just have to keep going, despite how s*** it is. Because it is s***.
However, in November, I managed to finally get a job for next year, and it was a relief. After many applications… Therefore, I thought I’d dedicate this blog to the different way the Warwick Careers service has helped me throughout my degree to help decide what I want to do, and how to go about applying for it. For more information about the opportunities available to students and a full list of services offered, here is a link to the Careers Service:
*Note: The Careers Service seems to change it’s name an awful lot, so apologies if they’re actually called something else. Right now they’re called Student Opportunity. But, if I use “the Careers service” everyone knows who I’m talking about.
Main services used: One-to-one careers guidance session; general advice for year abroad students
I’ll be honest, I didn’t attend a single careers event in first year, nor did I really care about the future. The Careers Service organises so many job fairs related to different sectors throughout the year, as well as relevant talks and networking events. However, I was on a four year degree, and the top of my priorities list was organising my year abroad for the following year (my second year). This was how I first met Clare, who is the specific Careers Advisor for the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, who gave her insight to everyone going on a year abroad about how to make the most of it and maximise our future employability. Every department has a specific advisor, which has been so helpful, as Clare has subsequently supported me throughout my degree. It’s been wonderful to have a familiar face throughout who can give me specific advice, and who knows me, especially when the job search has left me feeling terrible.
I actually then arranged a meeting with Clare at the end of Term 2 in first year, where I expressed the age-old problem “I don’t know what to do after I graduate” and she gave me loads of useful links to helpful webpages, as well as just some genuinely reassuring advice. This is something I don’t think enough students take advantage of, as it is a way to express all your worries whilst receiving some really useful tips and comfort that it will be okay. It’s important to remember that they’ve been doing this a while and have seen countless students graduate and start jobs, so even if you can’t picture where you’ll be in five years, they might be able to help based on previous students’ experiences.
Second year (year abroad)
Main services used: Mock job application
I didn’t really use the Careers Service either whilst I was away, as I was too busy having a lot of fun. I did manage to secure a summer internship in London, using my year abroad experience extensively in my interview, which was great.
Throughout the year abroad, Warwick required me to complete a couple of year abroad assessments, and the one in term 3 involved the Careers Service. We had to complete a fake job-application and cover letter (for a real job we found online), which was helpful as it was one of the first cover letters I ever wrote and it gave me the chance to receive feedback without the fear of it actually mattering. It’s funny, feedback is much nicer and easier to take on board when it’s not attached to a ambivalent rejection email…
It’s also worth highlighting that the Careers service also offers mock job interviews throughout the year which I’ve heard are brilliant, and can really build your confidence before a real one. This is something I wish I had taken advantage of earlier on.
Main services used: MyAdvantage (careers searching tool); CV Feedback meeting; Warwick Languages Alumni Evening & Talk
I suppose this is where it got serious. Having frolicked about Colombia and Italy for a bit, I decided I needed to get to Russia to practice my final language, so early on I was on the hunt for an internship. I turned to MyAdvantage which is a Warwick specific platform which lists jobs, internships, placements or volunteering schemes from around the world that students can use to apply. It’s easy to use, and I loved that I could filter the jobs by location and length of placement. I found an internship in Moscow through this service, which was really exciting (COVID did ruin this by making me have to do it virtually, but it was exciting at the time). Prior to applying, I also went for a one-on-one CV feedback meeting, where I showed an advisor my CV as well as the specification for the job, and she gave me advice about how to improve it in terms of the layout and the content.
It’s worth interjecting at this point that after every meeting I’ve had with the Careers advisors, I’ve walked away feeling empowered and motivated to continue the job search. They are a really lovely bunch, and I’m grateful for their support.
After I had secured my summer internship in November, my interest in job stuff waned a bit, so I didn’t go to as many events as I probably should have. I missed the main careers festival because I was hungover, and as I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I avoided the sector specific talks and festivals. I regret this, but it is what it is. I did, however, attend a talk at the end of Term 2 (just before we entered lockdown one) where Clare (our languages specific careers advisor) arranged for former Warwick languages students to come back and talk about their careers and life post-university. This was really inspiring, mainly because the range of careers on display underlined just how flexible a life after a languages degree can be.
Fourth/ Final year
Main services used: One-to-one careers guidance service; Careers advice webpages; LinkedIn session
So now its time for final year. I was stressed about finding a job. I had probably been stressed about finding a job since January of my third year. In the summer between my third and final year, shortly after I had started my internship rEmOtElY, I had another meeting with Clare, where I expressed my desire to do something more technical and less artsy post university, and she gave me some great advice yet again. I also got my token pep-talk, and walked away (well, left the Teams call) feeling great.
And then at the beginning of September, I started the soul-destroying process of applying for grad schemes. I was clueless; I was not one of those people at university who have had it all mapped out since they were 17 (you meet a lot of those at Warwick). However, what I found was that the process is quite straightforward, and once you’ve done a couple of applications, you realise that most companies use the same software, so you always get similar questions. I also turned to the many advisory blogs and webpages which are available on the Careers Service website. All in all, I’m glad I don’t have to do it again, and the countless rejections are tough to deal with, but the process itself wasn’t that bad.
When I actually started at Warwick again, there were a number of careers events occurring daily online, and I tried to take advantage of these. I went to a LinkedIn advice session, as to be perfectly honest, I hate LinkedIn. It scares me. I feel embarrassed using it. But it’s got to be done, and this session was helpful. I also signed up to quite a few other sessions, such as how to perform better in psychometric tests. However, by the time November came around, I had secured my job, and I embraced the luxury of not having to worry as much about it all.
So that was my journey with the Warwick Careers Service, and how they have helped me find a job. There’s so many opportunities to improve your employability that it can be overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to dive in and just explore what you can do. Also, as I’ve said so many times, they are a lovely bunch, so if you are feeling stressed, reach out individually and have a one-on-one chat to feel better. They certainly will not find you a job, but they’ll do their best to help you feel like you’ve got everything you need to have the best chance when applying.