Careers support for first year students
Your time at university provides you with the opportunity to discover who you really are, enhance what you can do, and establish yourself as a working professional in a career that makes you smile. Starting to take action in your first year to build, adjust and shape your career path will put you in a good position to secure a fulfilling and exciting future for yourself and achieve career success. The below information will provide you with the tools, knowledge and guidance you need to begin making the most of your time with us.

See how past students (alumni) made the most of their university experience to help get them where they are today.

 

Three key endeavours for your first year:

Work out who you are

Truly knowing your values, motivations and strengths is key to achieving career success. This self-awareness can drive self-development and so is highly valued by employers.

Key to growing your self-awareness is the ability to be reflective in order to increase your understanding. Explore your experiences through your thoughts and emotions, and challenge these with evidence. Take a look at the below resources and, while completing them, ask yourself questions such as ‘why is that?’ or ‘how do I know that?’

  • Career assessments on myCareer – Answer set questions to receive reports providing an idea of your temperament, strengths, resilience and much more.
  • Core values exercise (PDF) – Identify your core values via answering key questions, or by narrowing down lists of values you find yourself drawn to.
  • Letter writing to your future self/past self (PDF) – This can open you up to new levels of self-awareness, as well as free you from previous anxieties, and provide greater clarity/confirmation on the direction you are going.

Further information on developing your self-awareness, from understanding your working style to your role in a team, can be found on myCareer through videos, podcasts and activities.

Developing your self-awareness will then help you to build an idea of where you would like to be after graduating and what career direction you might like to take. Check out Where could your degree subject take you?

Gain experience

Your experiences will be what opens doors for you, both at university and after graduating. Your experiences highlight to employers the breadth of your horizons and perceptions, the scope of your learning, the skills you have nurtured, and the motivations you have.

Experience can come in all different shapes and sizes, and all will be invaluable in boosting your employability:

  • Volunteer in the local community – The Students’ Union (UPSU) can connect you with local charities, environmental projects, and community groups in need of volunteers. Find out more about volunteering.
  • Get a part time job – You can view a list of part time jobs available on campus and in Plymouth in the vacancies section of myCareer, including roles such as a University Student Ambassador.
  • Join a student society – Supported by your Students’ Union (UPSU), student societies are a great way to make new friends, try something new and broaden your perspectives.
  • Undertake an internship – These are a popular way of gaining experience during the holidays. Currently available internships and micro-internships (around two weeks in length) can be found in the vacancies section on myCareer
  • Represent your fellow students – If you are passionate about enhancing your and your fellow students’ university experience while standing up for those who struggle to be heard, then a student representative role may be of interest to you.
  • Consider undertaking a placement year – Students do not tend to do a placement year until their third year, but there is no harm exploring in your first year what a placement year could entail.
  • Join a university sports club – Supported by your Students’ Union (UPSU), student sports clubs are a great way to take a break from your studies and enhance your team working abilities.
  • Talk to your lecturers – They will have a fountain of knowledge and connections in industry to help you seek out opportunities. Some may also have opportunities to assist them and other academics with their research.
Start building your network

Networking is a great way to hear directly from potential employers and others who can support your career path. It can help improve your knowledge and assist you in making more informed career decisions. Crucially, it is a great way to get your name out there and start building relationships that may help you secure internships, placements or even graduate jobs. You can do this in a few ways:

 
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Enhance Your Future Programme

The Enhance Your Future Programme is open to all first year students and is either delivered to you as part of your degree course or is available to participate in via a myCareer pathway (a self-directed course with workshops, online exercises and reflective practice to engage in). The programme aims to help you discover how to make the most of your degree and University experience in order to achieve career success. 

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