Written by Caroline Thomas, BSc Geography Student
I am currently in my second year of University, studying geography here at Reading. Throughout school and Sixth Form I never had a clear idea of what it was that I wanted to do; what it is that I wanted to go into or what type of profession I was after. I chose my A-Level options based on subjects that I enjoyed; since I still had no idea of what it was that I wanted to do, and was unaware of what was available for me. We had a few talks before University regarding career paths and options, however, if it wasn’t medical or computer-science based I found there wasn’t much help available for you to discover other routes.
With that being said, I chose to study geography for my degree. Following how I chose my A-Levels, I chose geography simply because I enjoyed it; and I knew it covered a wide range of skills that could later be applied to a number of roles. At this point, I had been given minimal guidance on career options and started my first year at University enjoying studying the subject that I chose, without any idea how this could help me in my career after University. This was all until I attended the Careers and Placements Fair held in October.
There were over 2,100 other students in my position attending the Fair, viewing all the employer stalls and busy asking questions. Since this Fair is aimed at everyone here at the University, there were such a wide range of different employers and companies each represented by a few employees stood behind their stall ready to explain their role and the typical summer or graduate role at their company. I found this fascinating; for this was the first time throughout school, Sixth Form and University that I had been able to talk, face-to-face with people just a few years older than me who had found a Graduate Job through the University’s Careers Fair. I was able to thoroughly chat with each different company, to find out which roles they had to offer, and what sounded interesting based on my skillset and knowledge.
To my surprise, I came away with so much information (and so many freebies!), and was pleasantly surprised to know that 58% of all the students who attended the Fair searching for experience were female, just like myself. All the information regarded summer internships for the two summers after first and second year, as well as Graduate Jobs for after my final year here at the University. I learnt, through all the different employers, how important it is to gain valuable experience while still at University during the summer break through summer internship schemes, in order to add more experience to my CV. This shows proactivity; so that applying to Graduate Jobs for after the final year of University will have more chance for a successful application.
With all the information I was given, I was able to thoroughly look through each of the companies and select the ones I was most interested in to apply to. With help from the Careers Service at the University, I was able to book mock interviews and CV writing seminars in order to help me apply, as well as practise many different types of questions that could potentially be asked at the interview. This not only gave me more confidence to apply but made me realise the importance of experience to have on your CV; as employers are automatically attracted to a well-rounded person.
With success in a summer internship in the summer following my first year, with all credit due to the Careers and Placements Fair, I attended the same event the following year, in search of a second summer internship for the following summer. With more knowledge the second time round in terms of questions to ask the employers and which companies I am specifically interested in; I was able to be more thorough with my search with much more of an idea of what it is I am truly interested in for my future. I am very thankful that the University holds an annual Careers and Placements Fair, and plan to go once again in my third year to find a potential Graduate Job, fitting not only my skillset but my desired Career path, all found here at the Careers Fair.