Writes Elisha Carey
During your first few weeks of college (or dare I say your entire first year), the word ‘career’ is unlikely to slip its way into your vernacular. Food, friends and finances are just some of the new anxieties everyone must take on upon ente a well-deserved rest after a summer spent in CAO hell.
I remember my own Freshers’ Week all too well. To-ing and fro-ing third-level education. It’s new and exciting and those first few weeks can also be between stalls at clubs and socs, perusing my options as to how I would spend my weeknights. I eagerly anticipated watching movies in the Boole with FilmSoc or shooting arrows on the archery range. I had only just arrived here, right? This was the time to have fun, not to worry about my CV…
Or so I thought…
I think we are all guilty of underestimating just how quickly three or four years go by and then, BAM! without warning, you are catapulted right out of your college safety net into the real world. And there are not even clubs and socs in the real world! There’s just …Weight Watchers and your dad’s golf club. And even then, those things cost money. In fact, so does pretty much everything.
Getting a job is one of those terrible but necessary things, kind of like consistently sanitising your hands during a global virus outbreak or getting drive-through Chicken McNuggets on a long car journey. With any luck, you’ll have a clear idea of what direction you want to head in once your college experience ends. In all probability, you’re clueless, and your idea of what your dream job is will evolve over time.
Enter UCC Career Services
The team at Career Services will tell you that it’s never too early to begin planning for your career (whatever it may end up being!) There’s plenty of things you can start doing in first year to give yourself a leg up in the game:
Engage in College Life
Immersing yourself fully in college life and making use of everything UCC has to offer undoubtedly increases your employability. Joining clubs and socs will give you a wide range of transferable skills and can also help you learn more about yourself and what career path you may like to take! Getting involved in campus initiatives like UCC Works shows incredible ambition and signals to employers that you don’t shy away from hard work!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
It’s important to know that you don’t have to do it alone. Upon entering UCC, you automatically have access to one-on-one consultations with one of the Career Services’ dedicated Career Consultants. They can talk your ideas over with you and help you forge your career path based on your own interests and hobbies. Once you have an idea of what direction you want to go in, Careers will help you in applying for experience such as insight evenings and internships, tailoring your CV and cover letter towards success!
It’s easy to flounder in the face of your imminent future but the Careers Services in UCC have made it possible for students to access a wealth of career resources online: the recently revamped Career Services website has everything from career interest questionnaires to Alumni Insights videos so you don’t even have to leave your bed while you launch your career quest! Careers will also be hosting a series of Virtual Career Fairs and networking opportunities on a rolling basis throughout the academic year so keep your eyes peeled on their socials for all the details!
Make Friends and Keep Them!
As well as providing support and overall good craic, the friends you make in college can also aid you on your career journey. The rumours are true, networking is one of the most important activities for furthering your career prospects while in college. Bear that in mind because the friends you make in college will eventually become full-blown professionals (I know it seems unlikely right now!) and maintaining your friendship network will mean keeping afoot of upcoming opportunities. As well as this, friends from different courses can give you an insight into different career sectors, helping you get a taste of what’s for you and what isn’t!
Develop an Impressive Online Presence
No better time than first year to sharpen up your socials! I won’t bore you with the more obvious stuff. It goes without saying that in this day and age if you want to be employed you should probably untag and remove any pictures of yourself intoxicated or doing anything unsavoury from your socials. Your social media accounts don’t have to be completely boring either, though. There is room for your personality on the web. Most employers will be happy to see your creative, sporty, thoughtful, or funny side shine through online, just keep it PG-13 or avail of those privacy settings.
What an age we live in where there’s an app that’s basically an arm of your CV! If you didn’t download LinkedIn after your TY work experience, then now’s the time to do it! And add all those friends you’ve made as connections on the app! Hosting over 600 million professional profiles, LinkedIn is the platform for professional networking and job searching. Creating a basic profile in first year is one of the best things I could’ve done to further my career: through the app, I was able to get in touch with graduates from my course who were more than happy to answer the questions I had!
While thinking about your career during your first year at college can give you a huge advantage in later years, it shouldn’t distract you entirely from living in the moment and having some (socially distant) fun! Balance is the key to life and if you’ve reached this far in the article you should know that there’s plenty of things you may already be doing that will strengthen your career prospects. If you would like any further help or info, you can visit the UCC Career Services’ new website at https://www.ucc.ie/en/careers/ to access their range of online resources or use your UCC student IT credentials to log into the Careers Connect service to book a remote consultation with a Career Advisor.
Congratulations on making it this far and good luck!