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Making the most out of university to prepare you for the world of work

By Jenna Colaco

It’s no secret that preparing for employment after university can be tough, especially when you are still figuring out what exactly you want to do. Some employers ask for previous experience, throwing many students into a panic and making them think that they are unsuitable for a role. After a chat with a College alumna, I’m convinced that we self-reject ourselves from things more often than we should. Below are a few things that I have learned through volunteering, work experience and networking events; I hope they help give a sense of the things that you could be doing at university to demonstrate your ability to do a job well and build a skill-set.

Volunteering/ student societies

Volunteering is such an easy way to get experience in a certain area, learn new skills and benefit people and organisations that need your help (volunteer for @thatoxfordgirl!). If you think you might want to work in something creative, you could volunteer for charities or university societies that need people to do graphic design for publicity, or market their events and opportunities for social media. If you think you might want to teach or work with young people after university, volunteering at a primary school, children’s charity or youth group could really help you find out if it is something that you enjoy. The little things you do at university that you find fun like helping run a society or volunteering at the weekend are things that can go on your CV and will provide you with lots of examples to use in job interviews. Some job interviews ask you to name an example of a time where you have demonstrated a skill e.g. good leadership, time management, working to a tight deadline. You could use the experience you gain from your volunteer roles to answer these. When you answer a question like this, use the STAR method: mention the Situation, Task, Action that YOU specifically took, and the Result of your actions.

Internships/ paid work

Internships can be very competitive and can often seem impossible to get. If you want an internship, make sure you spend a lot of time researching the company and what the job entails. Internships can be a great way of demonstrating previous experience, networking with other interns and people at a company and some internships result in offers for future employment, so they are an excellent way of preparing for employment after university.

Part-time jobs

Some people also have part-time jobs during term or over holidays, Oxford do not usually encourage you to work during term but do encourage you to work during the holidays, if you need to. For many students part-time employment involves working in restaurants and bars, shops and tutoring. These can give you lots of transferable skills and managers can give you references for future employment after university.

That Oxford Girl

’That Oxford Girl’ student ambassadors have also gone onto great jobs and internships, reflecting writing skills, voluntary work, commitment to access to education but also transferable skills you may not always consider - at our TOG meetings, they demonstrate team work, public speaking, creative thinking, social skills, social media and marketing skills. Tilly has written lots of references for ambassadors who have gone onto into really really exciting roles!


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