My time at university was well spent. I knew that I wanted to leave university in a good position for me to enter the competitive job market. For any job, you need experience and this is something I was determined to have upon completion of my degree. Every university offers you the chance to join activities and societies outside of your degree. The societies that I joined at my university were Enactus Kent, Temple Law Society, Kent Model United Nations and The East African Society, to name a few. I played an active role in the first 3 and attended all the events for the East African Society to network and engaged in interesting discussions and debates in the Pan-African Think Tank. There were a plethora of opportunities available for all students as there are at all universities, but it was up to you to decide whether or not you were going to take them up.
Freshers fayre and re-freshers fayre are a great way to learn about the activities and societies available at university. You have the chance to see all the different opportunities and speak to society committees and members about what they do and the benefits of joining. If I remember correctly, most of them should have induction days which will go into detail about the who they are, the work they do and why it is important plus the skills and opportunities that you gain if you become a member. There is usually a small fee to pay for membership for the year which in my experience is worth it!
Being an active member or a committee member of a society is not light work. You will need to be committed and make time for the work it entails and the duties that you will be given. This will be done alongside your course and the work for that too, so it is important not to take on more than you can handle. However, being a committee member will put you in a good position when you complete your course and seek jobs as it shows that you are able to juggle academic studies and outside (demanding) activities. It shows employers that you can handle heavy workloads and are reliable. Through society work, you will be building essential skills that employers look for at junior level.
Another great way to make sure you get the most out of university is by going to careers days or careers fairs and networking events. At these events, employers come and tell you what they expect in candidates. They tell you about the application process and you can ask about the work that you’ll be doing. The employers come to you – take advantage of this! For any law students who want to practise in the UK, there are law fairs and open days at law firms that you should look out for. These can be found on the TargetJobs website, LawCareers website, Chambers Student Guide and through your university.
The last thing I want to mention are internships. Look for internships while you are at university if you want to be better prepared to enter the competitive job market after your degree. You can apply for vacations schemes, mini-pupilages, insight days and summer or winter internships at law firms, chambers or legal departments in companies. This can be in the UK or back home (East African region), depending on where you find the opportunities. Make sure you are always networking because you never know who can give you your next opportunity! (I’ll discuss networking in another article). Try and apply for many, so you can build your CV while you’re at university. I aimed to have at least one internship or work experience every year during my degree and a committee position in a society as well, in addition to blogging.
Think of different ways to make yourself stand out in the current competitive job market. Employers are looking for well-rounded individuals who have something to offer and not just a degree! It’s good to have hobbies too and not just societies and activities. I personally enjoy writing, public speaking and networking. In my most recent interview, the interviewer found it interesting that networking is something that I enjoy doing. I spoke about the events that I go to and how important it is for me to build my network. What can you be doing to get the most out of university and to make you stand out? Think about this.
I hope this helps someone.
All the best!
Lucy Mutawe, Co-Founder.