(Visit the website http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/)
The most important thing you should know before arriving in a suitable and desirable profession after leaving Cambridge is that you can never start too early. Not only is the competition fierce, the majority of students (and people, that is) do not know what it is they want to do. The primary resource on offer to the students of Cambridge is the Careers Service; whether you are firmly set on a career path or aren’t even sure of the options out there, you’d be foolish to neglect it – especially given it’s completely free!
Conveniently located nearby Queens’, the Careers Service provides impartial and objective advice and information to all students of Cambridge on their future career. Wherever you may be in securing your career after graduation, there is plenty of support and resources available on the steps you may consider taking now. Below will give you an idea of how to discover these; and don’t wait any longer, opportunities are easily missed.
(Please see http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/stuart/aboutus.asp for the location, opening hours and contact info of the Careers Service.)
Haven’t got a clue
Do not panic. This is very common and there is plenty of support. Your first port of call should be the Cambridge Careers Guide; compiled by the staff of the Careers Service, it is packed with advice from exploring your options and all you need to know about getting a job, the details on specific graduate careers and employers and course providers. You should receive a copy early in your first term or see here http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/guide.asp.
To further aid you in choosing the direction of your graduate life, visit http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/students/GettingStarted/GettingStartedHaventGotAClue.asp to help you find a fitting direction suited to your own skills and interests.
Still unsure? Look at http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/GetStarted.asp. Here is further information on how to decide from information on what you can do with your degree subject to meeting with a Careers Advisor.
Yet unsure still? Check out http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/Sectors.asp to see what other graduates have gone on to do in your degree.
Be it the careers available or the one you desire, finding out more about what is involved in such sectors is no waste of time; it impresses recruiters in interviews and helps prevent making a false career choice. Information on the most frequently asked employment sectors can be found at http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/Sectors.asp; a good starting point for given interest in particular careers or ideas on what can be done with your subject of study. A more exhaustive resource is the Stuart House Library; located in the Careers Service building (which is called, you guessed it, Stuart House), it provides a wide selection on Occupations, Employers, Further Study and much more. A new resource is the Vault Career Insider Library; independent to the Careers Service, but subscribed through them (so it’s free), provides an additional portal of information.
In the present climate, starting a career is no easy task. A lot of employers have a lengthy application process to pick out the best of the, in some cases, highly competed over vacancies. This means you not only have to be vigilant but adept in the many components of what the process involves: in general, this usually includes interviews (phone and person) and CV’s and cover letters; however, some cases require completion of specific application forms and even tests.
(See http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/students/GettingStarted/GettingStartedMakingApps.asp for crucial guidance on the above. And http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/videos/index.asp for videos of particular real life scenarios)
An element of many organisations, the Careers Service offers several online tests free for you to take; for both development of your test-taking skills and to find out more about your abilities and personal preferences.
Contact Cambridge graduates who have agreed to be contacted informally about their career. Get inspiration from the different career paths taken by Cambridge alumni; learn from individuals who have already taken the steps you might be planning; contact them via our web form to ask the questions you really want to ask.
Meet a Careers Advisor
Sometimes nothing is more useful than actually speaking to someone who ‘knows their stuff’. The Careers Advisers are available to discuss your ideas, plans and options, and to help you work out what to do. You are expected to do some preparation such as written a CV (tailored or general, whichever is more relevant), done some research, have questions, and similar. On offer is free, confidential short and long appointments and 10 minute drop-in “Quick Query” sessions.
Cambridge graduates are sought after by many organisations (still not to say we have to compete less) and many come to Cambridge in order to sell themselves to us. This is just one kind of the array of events you should stay up to date with as, are not only insightful, but are potential networking opportunities too. Be it CV workshops, programmes for developing skills; stay informed from the Careers Service termly diary (distributed to students’ pigeon holes) and other sources such as the Queens’ newsletter.
This is the one not to be missed and it is fundamental that you do not leave it too late. There are many options and a few mains ones include:
Summer placements/internships: The big ones – if you really impress a job may be offered upon graduation. To maximise your chances of a successful application, you must start applying early Michaelmas and apply to many; although there are vacancies released later in the year, it would be foolish not to begin searching at the start of Michaelmas. Many organisations give precedence to those students in their penultimate year.
Easter/Winter placements/internships: Obviously shorter than their summer counterparts, these can be preliminary to them – i.e. fast-tracking to a final interview for a summer placement upon completion. Or just extra experience to show future employers.
Expeditions/international projects/etc: Usually voluntary, other than for personal interest, these show employers a variety of skills such as commitment and organisation. Not to mention a valuable experience.
(Visit http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/sectors/vacwork/index.asp to see what there is out there)
When registered to the Careers Service website, you can have new vacancies of your choice inboxed to you as they appear – highly recommended.