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4 Tips to help you get the most from a graduate career fair 
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Graduate career fairs or job fairs are held on university campuses up and down the country to bring together employers and students, useful for anyone at university. Planning your career early has many benefits, and attending a careers fair is one way in which you can start making preparations for life after graduation. They offer a chance to research potential employers and industries and find out about possible future opportunities. However, they can be large events and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

If you are planning on attending a graduate careers fair, here are 4 tips to help you get the most out of it. 

1.     Have a Plan

Before you attend, make sure you know what you are hoping to achieve. This will depend on which stage you’re at in planning your career and will influence the way you approach the fair. Maybe you’re hoping to find out more about a particular employer or industry, or you might be looking for networking opportunities or a chance to undertake some work experience. Whatever your reason, make sure you know which employers you want to talk to and whereabouts they will be located. 

2.     Do your Research

Graduate careers fairs can be busy, and your time to talk with potential employers may be limited. To make a positive impression and get the most out of the experience, it’s vital to do some general background research. Look at the company’s website to get a feel for what they do, then you can spend time asking pertinent questions, rather than going over the basics.  Prepare a few questions, for example about the wider industry, and keep up to date on any relevant news in that sector. 

3.     Treat it like a mini interview, and part of the application process

Careers fairs are great practice for interviews as you get a chance to answer basic questions, i.e “what do you know about us?” or “what interests you about working for us?” etc. Like with a job interview, think about how you present yourself. While full business attire isn’t necessary, make sure you are smart and presentable, to demonstrate you’re taking it seriously. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your CV to hand so you give it to the employer should they ask for a copy. It’s important you can describe your skills, knowledge and experience effectively, try to practise a ‘mini pitch’ which explains you, what you can offer an employer and what you are looking for. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell, just a concise, yet confident and purposeful introduction. 

4.  Start building relationships - networking 

Graduate careers fairs are a great opportunity to start building relationships (networking), so don’t be afraid to follow up with people you meet at the event.  Hopefully, after the fair you will have a better idea of the types of organizations you want to work for, so you can narrow down potential roles that interest you. Asking relevant follow up questions or enquiring about work experience are great ways to get you noticed for all the right reasons. It’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn profile, so you can reach out directly to individuals you have met, or who work within the companies you’re interested in. 

Walking into a graduate careers fair can be daunting, but hopefully these tips can help you get the most out of the experience. If you would like to discuss this, or any other topic relating to graduate careers, contact me on contact@coachingst.com to see how I can help you.

Freshers - Going to University
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Going to university is a big step. It often involves moving away from your friends and family, living independently for the first time and getting your head around a whole new lifestyle. That’s before you even get stuck into the studying! It can be daunting at first as lots of new people and experiences come rushing at you all at once.

Don’t be overwhelmed, there are many things you can do to help you settle into university life as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Make your room your own

If you’re living in halls, or even if you’re in a house share, your room may not feel particularly homely at first. While a full redecorating spree is unwise (and probably not allowed), a few touches can help it feel like yours straight away. You could bring some familiar items from home, or even treat yourself to a few new bits and bobs to help inject some personality and make your room feel like home. A rug or lamp, or even just a couple of posters or photos can make all the difference.

Leave a door open

One of the easiest things you can do in the early days is leave your door open and get to know your neighbours or anyone who is just passing. Everybody is in the same boat and will also be on the lookout for potential new mates. Just remember it’s not like school, at uni there’s far more people, so you don’t have to hang around with people you don’t like.  You’ll soon find people with similar interests to you, and the people you meet at uni, may just  become friends for life.  This is the start of your network, so it’s a great time to start developing relationships with people.

Join a sports club or society

Freshers’ Week can be a bit of free for all, but it’s a great time to get to know your new university and find your way around. There will also be an opportunity to find out about all the societies and sports clubs that are available. Joining in is a brilliant way to make friends and have lots of fun. It’s the perfect way to carry on with a sport or hobby that you already do, or you can try something completely new!  Expanding your horizons in this way will help you figure out what you like and don’t like. There is lots of hard work ahead, so balancing studying with some extra-curricular activities is a wise move, and it will help with the job application process later.

Create your own routine

Once the excitement of Freshers’ Week has subsided, the hard work starts! It’s a good idea to treat studying like a job. Start by getting your head around your timetable so that you know where you need to be and when. It’s a good idea to be organised from the beginning so that you don’t miss important deadlines and always know what is expected of you. With no parents or teachers breathing down your neck, you need to be responsible for yourself. Whether it’s a spreadsheet, a diary or lots of post its stuck everywhere, find a system that works for you and stick to it.

Don’t forget to phone home

University life can be a bit of a whirlwind, especially at the beginning, and it’s easy to get swept along in the excitement. Just remember to check in at home from time to time. Your parents will appreciate it and some people find it helpful to stave off homesickness. Telling your family about what you’ve been up to will make you realise just how much you’ve done and how far you’ve come.

Starting university is an exciting time, but it can also be scary. If you’re struggling to settle into university life, you won’t be the only one. Talk to those around you, it’s likely that some people will feel exactly like you. Also, your university will have services available to offer support and guidance to their students, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

Suzanna Tan
University Careers Service

I say this to all the students who come to me for career coaching - Use your university careers service…it's free and it has lots of useful services to help you plan and manage your career. Familiarise yourself with what your university careers service offers. Most will offer careers information, support and guidance on these areas:

1. Exploring options - if you don't know what to do, or want to know yourself better, these services will help you be more self-aware so you can start to explore the career that may suit you.

2. Employability - this area will help you understand how you can make yourself more employable by addressing the gaps and through building the right skills, knowledge and experience you need for your target job.

3. Jobs, work experience and volunteering - sometimes universities have links with employers and alumni, there will be information about jobs you can apply for, how to gain work experience, recruitment fairs, local volunteering opportunities, etc.

4. Application process - there will be online and personal support on writing cover letters, constructing your CV, assessment centre practise, interview skills and lots more.

5. Information - about the the jobs or sectors you are interested, including pay, hours, skills, knowledge and experience required.

Remember to get the support you need to help you with your career. University is the perfect time to start looking into this, planning and taking the action to start developing all the skills, knowledge and experience you need to get yourself career ready for when you leave.

Watch this YouTube video to find out more about your university careers service, and my other videos with useful support to help you get career ready.

If you can’t find what you need at your university, a career coach may be just what you need. My coaching is tailored and personalised to you and I will work with you to quickly focus on the things you need to manage your career and reach your goals. Contact me on contact@coachingst.com to see how I can help you.

I started a YouTube channel to help university students manage and build their careers
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Career coaching can sometimes be deemed as a privilege for those who can afford it in terms of time and money. Many may not even be aware a service like this exists and don’t realise the benefits of having one to one support to help work through career options, career vision and plan.

I’ve been coaching for over ten years and I wanted to find a way to use my skills, knowledge and experience to make career related learning and development accessible to more people. Whilst coaching my student clients and reflecting on my Masters in Career Development and Coaching Studies, I’ve realised there is so much I can share to support university students with their early careers.

I believe in continuous self-development through new learning, getting outside comfort zones and trying things out, and listening to constructive feedback. A number of people encouraged me to get on social media to share what I know and I thank them for their gentle nudges (you know who you are!). After doing lots of research I found YouTube is a commonly used source of information for students and invested in Sunny Lenarduzzi’s YouTube for Bosses program because I wanted to do this properly, methodically and quickly. In one month, I have five videos uploaded and over 50 ideas in the pipeline of career topics to help university students. I’m still a beginner and there’s so much more to learn and apply, but I’m enjoying the challenging process.

Feel free to watch my content and share my videos with anyone you think may find them useful.

https://youtu.be/s6X0yNQSnuM