The simple answer to this question is: No. But why isn’t it enough? And if it’s not enough, then what can you do to bolster your chances of finding a graduate role?
It isn’t enough because every year there are thousands upon thousands of graduates who have just completed the same modules as you. They’ve written all the same papers, attended the same lectures, and taken the same exams. It’s an almost cookie cutter approach to education. So, when it’s time to start applying for a graduate scheme, you are competing with others who have done everything you have. So how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?
This is actually the easy part of the whole equation. It all starts when you walk through the doors of your hallowed institution of higher learning. The beautiful part is that as a first year university student you have time on your side. You have time to get involved in societies, sports teams and voluntary work as well as the odd part time job. This is a great time to start networking with employers to find out more about potential industries you’d like to work in and what competencies they are looking for.
Once you enter your second year, you should look to kick things up a notch and take on more of a leadership role in those societies and sports teams. This is also a great time to start thinking about placement opportunities. Placements are an invaluable way to try your hand in a new industry and see maybe where you would like to work upon graduation. Three month summer internships or 12 month industrial placements are the best places to start. In your third year, look to expand your responsibilities and leadership roles in your societies and teams. Really start to expand your network of employers to find your dream career.
Now, if you’re reading this and think, ‘Oh great, I’m in my second or third year and I’ve missed the boat.’ No, you haven’t – don’t be discouraged. You still have time to find volunteer opportunities on the weekends and still interview for placement schemes. Use your Career Services offices to help you draw out your transferrable skills to your CV and to start networking with employers. If there’s a particular company you want to work for and they do not offer placements, ask them if you can work for them and tell them how you can add value. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
The key to all of this is to differentiate yourself from everyone else out there and build your leadership, communication and teamwork skills. So yes, get your degree, but look to expand your horizons and get involved. You would be surprised what you can learn outside of the classroom!