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Get started before your degree

Start building your CV before university

It’s not too soon to prepare for life after university. You can make a difference even if you're still at school.

Employers look at your interests and experience as well as your qualifications, so you'll need more than a top degree to get a job when you graduate. Explore our tips below to improve your CV before starting university.

1. Do your research

It's easy to put off planning your future but exploring your options now will help you choose what you want to do and decide whether university is the right path for you. 

Spend some time looking at careers you're interested in and explore how to get there. Even if you don't know exactly what you want to do, researching options can help you figure out what steps you need to get started in your field. Starting now will save you time and energy in the long run, and ensure you're setting yourself achievable and constructive goals to keep you on the path you want.  

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2. Create a CV

Start writing your CV even if you don't need it yet. You’ll need one to start your career, and getting started early will highlight any gaps you can fill in the meantime. Make a written list of your achievements to remind you of what you've already achieved and plan your next steps to fill in any gaps you notice.

3. Learn new skills

New skills will strengthen your CV, help you build relationships, and give you experience in learning new things whether you know your career goals or not. 

Use your CV to identify gaps in your experience and tailor your new skills to fill these gaps. Do you have good communication, but no evidence to show it? Try volunteering or taking part in a team project. Consider taking up a musical instrument, teaching yourself to code, learning a language, or something else. All these skills show employers that you're motivated and willing to learn.

Hobbies often have transferable skills that can help you in the workplace too — becoming a blogger can improve your written communication and time management, and even encourage you to learn related skills like graphic design. 

4. Apply for an internship or work experience

Employers love to see potential employees are proactive, interested, and have put time into their development before applying for a job. Relevant work experience helps prepare you for work and see how an industry works before you land your first job. 

Work placements are essential in some industries, like healthcare or law, and optional in others. Completing an internship at a respectable organisation shows employers you know what you're doing and understand the workplace, as well as introducing you to connections in the company.

Explore the work experience opportunities available if you choose to join us at Portsmouth.

5. Get a part-time job

There’s no greater preparation for a lifetime of work than getting a job.

Some part-time jobs won't link directly to your future career, but that's okay. Getting a job increases your workplace experience (and boosts your income), which will help you when your post-graduation job hunt begins.

6. Volunteering

Volunteering can take many forms. You could work in a charity shop for a cause that you care about, run bucket collections, organise or undertake fundraising challenges, or raise awareness of your cause. Community groups like Scouts or Girl Guides are also keen to take volunteers.

In return for your time, you'll gain teamwork or leadership experience and improve your essential skills like organisation, communication and time management.

Think about what's important to you and what you want to gain from your volunteering, and try to find a role which supports both of these.

Once you're at uni our volunteering team can help you build skills to enhance your CV.

7. Go travelling

Exploring places and cultures can be a real learning curve and help you grow as a person. You can join a travel group (plenty of volunteering schemes and charities will take you abroad), or travel alone. Independent travel involves a lot more time management and planning, whereas group travel showcases your communication and reliability. 

8. Pursue your hobbies

You need more than a good degree to get a job, and hobbies can really help. As well as showing your passions and interests, hobbies can demonstrate your skills and talents. Consider joining a club or group for something you enjoy to expand your social circle and develop your skills. 

Careers and employment

Our graduate employment rates are among the UK's best, with 94% of our students in work and/or further study (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey, 2020/21). We're in the top 20% of all universities in England for graduate start-up activities (Knowledge Exchange Framework 2022).

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