What have you done in addition to your degree to enhance your employability and what do you feel you’ve gained from this?
I was part of many clubs and societies during my time at QUB, and I also worked part-time for QUB through On-Campus Jobs.
Through the orchestra I was able to keep up my music hobby in addition to my degree where I was able to make friends and get involved with the music scene, playing regular concerts and going on tours around the UK and Ireland.
I was also the Vice-President of the Geography Society where I was able to develop key skills that I wouldn’t gain simply from my degree; I was able to help organise events with the society and recruit more members – this was a great opportunity where I was able to have a lot more responsibility and could develop my organisation and communication skills through organising events and talking at the front in lectures. Most of the time this was with my friends which made it easier and a great place to develop skills before going out into the workplace after university.
I also worked for the QUB domestic recruitment office, where I was part of a team that gave campus tours and introduced prospective students to QUB. Doing this developed my general people skills where I had to interact with new people who I had never met before and engage in conversations whilst trying to sell QUB to them. Through this I got to help out at open days where I had to give presentations in lecture theatres in front of up to 100 people; here I used my presentation and customer selling skills to effectively market QUB.
No matter what my interests, I wanted to get involved in as much as possible, as everything I did were new experiences where I could learn new things, or develop new skills or enhance old ones. New experiences always equal developed skills that can be applied into any job in the future.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s
Time at QUB goes quick and I wanted to make sure I used all the services available to me to enhance my employability.
Insight into Management was the best thing I ever did at QUB. The programme was a three day programme of business games to give an insight into the skills in a complex business environment. Through this I was able to take part in team building exercises, as well as an overall team challenge where we had to create a product and pitch it to ‘investors’. The Insight Into Management programme developed my management and teamwork skills through working in a team where we worked to meet the targets set for us. All of the skills from this programme were transferable and I could apply them to any situation in a variety of workplaces where my management skills allowed me to solve any problems and work effectively in the workplace. Writing down this experience on my CV made me a much more attractive applicant to any job, no matter what I wanted to apply for I knew that this experience had given me the skills to apply into any situation, and employers definitely look for the students who had done that little bit extra. In every interview I have ever attended Insight Into Management has been the most impressive thing I have spoken about and it always really impresses employers because of the range of skills practiced in this situation. Whilst your degree is important, these extra programmes provided by Careers, Employability and Skills will really help you to boost your employability overall. Employers are always interested in what else you’ve done at QUB, so give yourself lots of experiences to talk about.
Even after the Insight Into Management programme I still continued to use Careers, Employability and Skills to increase my employability. They organise regular workshops and mentoring sessions for a variety of things, from CV writing, to interview techniques and even one to one practice interviews. In final year I attended several interview workshops; these are usually presented by visiting employers, so it gives you a chance to learn more about interviews, whilst also learning about the employers themselves. These events can seem quite daunting, especially if you have never been to one before, or if you’ve no idea about interview situations, but they are there to help. When I attended my first one I had no idea about what makes a good interview, but they really helped me to understand interviews and know what to say and how to say it. A lot of the time, it’s not about having bucket loads of experience, but just knowing how to present yourself in an interview effectively.
I attended an interview workshop that was hosted by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a worldwide employer that is one of the largest car rental companies. The session was fantastic, and at the end of it they offered everyone who attended a practice interview for their Management Trainee graduate scheme. I took this opportunity straight away as a fantastic way of practicing my interview technique in a real life situation. From that interview I was then chosen to continue through the graduate scheme application process, and had a further interview with Enterprise. I then made it through to the final assessment day where I was subsequently offered a job as a Management Trainee here in Northern Ireland. In my opinion, one of the reasons I got this job was because I took part in the Insight Into Management programme, and then took part in workshops which led to me being offered an interview, simply for getting involved at QUB.
Any advice for other Queen's students?
QUB really focuses on employability, and there is so much to get involved with to enhance your employability for after QUB. I’d always encourage people just to get involved with anything at all; one thing always leads to another and just by doing one thing who knows where you can be. Such as just turning up to a workshop and being offered an interview. Even if you’re not sure what you want to do after university, do what you enjoy and you can do anything afterwards – chances are you’ll have developed interrelated skills. I had no idea I wanted to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car when I started at QUB, but by getting involved in what I enjoyed, I developed interrelated skills, that could be applied to everything in any situation.
The more you do, the more you have to talk about on a CV or in an interview, and then the interview actually becomes really quite enjoyable where you can talk about the fun you’ve had whilst getting involved at QUB. Your degree is important, but it’s the things you did to enhance your employability that is really going to help you.
Just get involved in as much possible and love your time at QUB.