How to help your child make themselves more employable whilst at university

The time spent at university can be extremely rewarding, however many students struggle to make themselves stand out to employers after graduation. Amy Gray and Claire Brooke from the University of Sheffield’s Career Service have some top tips on how to help your child make themselves more employable whilst at university.


  • Encourage them to get involved! Be it a society, a local club or organisation, there’s one for everyone. Universities are home to a wide range of different societies from academic/departmental to special interest groups. For example, the University of Sheffield has over 250 student societies and 30 committees! Encourage them to not only take part, but be involved in the organisation as well. If your child can become the treasurer, secretary or chair person for example this will stand them in good stead in later years.


  • Persuade them to undertake some work experience, a period of volunteering or a part time job – no matter what activities they undertake, the chances of them developing transferable skills that will help in the future are undeniable. It also helps them to develop examples of skills to provide as evidence for future employers. Here at the University of Sheffield Students’ Union, Sheffield Volunteering runs over 200 projects in and around the city and the Student Jobshop advertises a range of part-time jobs and work experience.


  • Are they into sport? Getting involved in a sports team is an excellent way to show team spirit, leadership and negotiation skills. They don’t have to be an award winning athlete; there are usually sports opportunities at all levels from recreational to elite, and the University of Sheffield has over 47 sports clubs alone!


  • Most universities will run an extracurricular award program – this recognises students’ positive involvement in activities such as volunteering, enterprise activities or part time local work. Upon graduation, they can receive an award for these efforts along with their degree certificate – another sure fire way to stand out from the crowd on application. An example of this here at the University is the ‘Skills for Work Certificate’ and the ‘Sheffield Graduate Award’.


  • Is a placement year an option? Many courses now offer students the chance to spend a year working as part of their course. Here at Sheffield, our ‘Degrees with Employment Experience’ offers students this opportunity. Increasingly employers are using these placements as a way to recruit onto their graduate training programmes and some offer financial sponsorship for students in their final year of study


  • Does your child see themselves as the next Richard Branson? If they fancy themselves as a bit of a business tycoon then they should get in touch with the Enterprise unit at their university. Our Enterprise department helps students make their business ideas happen through a range of support and grants and many go on to great things


Of course, it is very difficult for your child to juggle all of the above, and maintain a high academic standing. However, more and more employers are looking for a range of skills and it is becoming increasingly important for students to broaden their abilities to enter into their dream career.


Amy Gray is the Jobshop Coordinator for the Careers Service at the University of Sheffield and Claire Brooke is the Student Placement Coordinator for the University of Sheffield.

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