I read a fabulous blog post the other day, from the Thesis Whisperer. For any of you engaged in writing dissertations or theses, this excellent blog is pretty much a must-read. But the post I read resonated so much with me I thought I would share some of the themes.
The essence of the post was about the author having to collect every piece of evidence of her academic activity that she could, in order to apply for a promotion. Starting to see the parallels?
It was rather hard. Actually it was very hard. Even for someone with an organised system for keeping records, there were some things she had not considered. Things like testimonials or great feedback on her talks. Dates she had given talks.
Now you might be forgiven for thinking 'What has this got to do with me?' and 'What on earth does this have to do with careers?
So, what does this have to do with careers? And specifically, *your* career?
Well, it has probably not escaped you that this is the season of CV writing and job applications. If any of you have started writing your CV and thought 'When was it I did that bit of volunteering?' or struggled to find the dates you were working three summers ago, or to accurately convey what you did and how you contributed when you were on a summer internship last year, then this post is your call to arms.
With anything like this, it is so much easier if you start with a well-organised system for keeping records. So if you are a first year, or a second year new to the world of placements, then our advice is to get organised.
Every society you join, make a note of it, what it does, how you contribute. And the same for each volunteering activity. Because it is so much easier to craft a CV beautifully tailored to a job when you have a record of all your evidence that you could do the things the employer is looking for.
The same goes for your part-time jobs. Where did you work? What did you do? How did you know you did a good job? How did you make the employer's life better?
You might be thinking - but where do I put all this information?
We have the answer. It's called MyFuture. Specifically, the 'My Experiences' part of it. Time spent recording your positions of responsibility, achievements, scholarships, projects, sports teams, volunteering etc will be rewarded when you come to answer those competency-based questions that require you to talk about a time when you demonstrated such-and-such a quality.
Obviously other systems are available - just pick one that works for you. The key is to get your experiences organised. That's particularly important at this time of year, with deadlines for jobs starting to appear.
The other bonus of doing this is that it will show you where any gaps are - while you still have time to take action to fill them.
Is this worth the effort put in?
It's so worth doing - even, or especially, if you don't know what you want to do. It can really show you the sort of things you often choose to do - maybe you will see a common theme of helping people, or working in a fast-paced environment, or coming up with original ways of doing things, that will help you narrow down the wide range of possible career destinations.
Not to mention that it will make putting together a tailored CV for each job a lot easier, if you can easily piece together the most relevant parts of your experiences to put prominently on it.
And remember - we are here to help you navigate your way through the careers landscape, so come and talk to us if you'd like a few signposts and pointers!