Employability is a huge aspect of your degree education, learning how to become employable usually takes time. However, I am hoping I can provide some personal advice on how I improved my employability and how you can do the same.
As for context, I joined Durham coming from a state-educated background, with no employability skills to my name. I was also rejected from all 16 spring week applications (Finance insight programmes) at the application stage. I then changed my mindset, improved my employability, and now have secured an offer for investment banking with Bank of America and undergoing other applications.
I would suggest there are three key steps to improving your employability.
1. Make a plan
I would recommend reaching out to friends, family, and the careers service to discuss your career goals. Forming an idea of what you may want to do after university can help you focus on your goals and understand what skills you need to improve. If you are eligible, I would look into upReach or SEO London as I have personally benefitted from these schemes, please do look into them! However, if you are unable to decide what you want to do, I offer some advice later.
2. Enact your plan
Assuming you have an idea of what direction you want to take your career in, I would then work on understanding what skills make you employable in that role or industry. This can be done through the use of Google, the careers service, but arguably and most importantly, speaking to those in the industry. I recommend setting up a LinkedIn, connecting with Durham alumni in the industry and just asking them for advice. Set up a coffee chat, virtual call, or just message some questions around employability and how they got into the industry, including the most important skills. For me, this was commercial awareness, teamwork, leadership, communication and report writing skills.
I began to develop these through a wide range of experiences including society work, course/faculty representative roles as well as roles outside the university including MarketView equity report writer. This is how you enact your plan. You find the skills you need to develop and display through your CV and then undertake roles that allow this. You do not become a CEO overnight; this is a process and you may have to take small roles to improve your skills enough to convert your experience into larger roles.
3. Converting your experience into offers
This step is arguably easiest if the first two steps are done correctly. I would recommend using the services the career service provides to assist in interview preparations and application assistance.
For those who are unsure of what they want to do, I highly recommend improving your general skills, those good in all industries. These include communication, leadership, teamwork. I would encourage you to join in society execs as these provide invaluable starting points to develop these roles.
I hope this advice helps you develop your understanding and help push your career goals to a new level!
To help you develop your employability check out The Careers Employability and Enterprise webpages