by Gregor Williamson
Getting a degree is a surefire way to strengthen your CV. However, there are many other things you can also do alongside your degree to make your CV stand out even more.
1. Apply for an internship
If you have little or no work experience, doing an internship is a great way to improve your CV but there are several things to keep in mind:
· Unless your university course includes an internship, you will have to reach out to companies to find something suitable.
· Not all internships are paid work experience. Paid internships are also very competitive.
· An internship is a big undertaking and will either require effective management of your responsibilities, potentially sacrificing your summer, or suspending your studies for a year.
The upsides of doing an internship are immense. Doing an internship will count as valuable work experience in your field and will also enable you to build important network connections. Finally, if your internship goes well, they may even offer you a job after you graduate.
But if doing an internship is not for you, do not worry. There are many other options to improve your CV.
2. Get involved
In every field, there are associations and societies you can join that carry several benefits such as discounted journal subscription, annual meetings, and opportunities to get involved as part of a student committee or as a student ambassador. A few examples are the British Psychological Society, the British Philosophical Association, and the Linguistics Association of Great Britain. Showing that you are affiliated with such organisations can open doors when applying for postgraduate education or searching for a job. These associations also typically offer discounts for student members.
Undergraduate and postgraduate conferences provide students with the chance to submit and present their work. Presenting at a student conference will show employers that you can handle pressure and communicate your ideas effectively to an audience. Ask your supervisor whether there are any student conferences which you could submit to. If you are accepted, your university may even cover some of the travel and accommodation costs.
Besides presenting at student conferences, you could consider organising one. Many university departments encourage students to organise workshops and conferences. See if you can get involved with organising an event, and employers will see that you are organised, responsible, and able to handle a budget and logistical issues.
Finally, taking part in extracurricular clubs shows that you have a life outside of studying. You could even develop skills which employers are looking for by joining a foreign language society or a computer programming club.
3. Get accredited
Some courses offer the opportunity to get accredited through a leading professional body. For example, the Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM) provides students from affiliated universities with the chance to earn an IDM certified digital marketing certificate during their degree. Similarly, several Computer Science degrees are accredited by the British Computer Society, meaning students can become a Chartered IT Professional upon graduating.
It is worth keeping things like this in mind when choosing between courses. If you are already enrolled, take a look to see if something like this is offered as part of your course. Having an accredited degree will emphasise to employers that you meet the industry standard.
4. Go abroad
With Erasmus+, you can study at another European university for a year. Unfortunately, due to ongoing Brexit negotiations, it is unclear what the future of this programme will be. But if it continues, it will remain the best way to show employers that you aren’t afraid to step outside your comfort zone and face new challenges.
Alternatively, you could attend a summer school. Hundreds of summer schools are held each year at universities across the UK, Europe, and the United States. While most are currently on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some are continuing to run online.
5. Apply for awards
Many departments award prizes for outstanding academic achievement at the end-of-year graduation ceremony. If you finish at the top of the class or produce an exceptional dissertation, you could be awarded a certificate and a cash prize.
In addition, many professional associations offer undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation prizes. If your dissertation receives a high mark, it may be worth submitting it to a dissertation competition. To get an idea of what to look for, here are a few examples of awards offered by the Association for Art History, the Roman Society, and the UK Data Service.
6. Start a business
One way to worry less about your CV is to become your own boss! Many universities offer students help setting up a business and ideas of how to commercialise their research. As well as giving advice, many universities also have entrepreneurship grants available. Here are some examples of enterprise and innovation opportunities offered by the University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and UCL.
7. Get out there
Finally, now that your CV is set to impress, keep an eye out for recruitment events at your university. Most universities organise recruitment fairs; businesses sign up to the events to meet future employees. Examples of these events are the University of Nottingham recruitment fair, and the University of Manchester’s big careers fair. Events such as these are a great way to network with potential employers or to simply get an idea of what type of jobs are available to you after completing your degree. Just don’t forget to take your CV!
Gregor Williamson previously obtained a bachelor's degree in English Language and English Language Teaching at the University of Greenwich. He then completed a Master's degree in Linguistics at University College London. Gregor is now doing a Linguistics Ph.D. at University College London.