Develop skills and employability
Studying at university is not just about your academic course of study or your area of research. It’s also a great opportunity to develop your skills and enhance your future career path. Loughborough University provides a fantastic range of opportunities to develop your skills and employability.
What is employability?
Your employability is an outcome of your range of skills, knowledge, aptitudes, behaviours, work and life experience. Put very simply, employability is the potential of the individual to be employed and to progress successfully in employment.
Why should I be concerned about my skills and employability?
With a degree from a top university, do you really need to bother about your skills and employability? Well, securing the placement or graduate role you want is not just about your degree and your knowledge. Most employers are looking for a range of other attributes which contribute to success in the workplace - skills like being a versatile teamworker with good communication skills, resilience and motivation, and the ability to reflect and adapt. Our list of skills employers seek provides a really useful checklist.
To stand out in your applications you need to be aware of your own unique skill-set and be able to articulate this clearly.
The Loughborough University Graduate Attributes
The good news is that Loughborough students and graduates tend to be highly employable and sought after by employers. Our students have a reputation for having a wide range of positive attributes which employers are looking for. Working with students and employers we have defined these 'Loughborough attributes' and identified lots of ways in which students can develop and enhance these skills and behaviours and their future employability.
What are the Loughborough University graduate attributes?
We believe there is something special about the range of attributes and skills that students develop and enhance when they come to Loughborough University. Employers seem to think so too, as hundreds of companies actively seek to recruit Loughborough students and graduates.
Some of the phrases we use to describe Loughborough students and graduates are:
- Versatile teamworker - collegial and collaborative
- Active participant - positively engaged, getting involved
- Caring, ethical and with integrity - globally minded, thriving in diversity
- Innovative and enterprising - research minded and inquiring
- Reliable and committed - getting things done and done well
- Competitive, high achiever - reaching potential, demonstrating leadership
- Resilient and adaptable - determined and motivated
- Reflective and articulate - critical and analytical thinker
- Agile lifelong learner - rounded and grounded.
As a University we strongly believe that these are qualities that all Loughborough students can develop and demonstrate.
How can I develop my skills and attributes?
The good news is that you already are! You already have lots of skills; you just might not recognise them yet.
You acquire skills and develop your attributes all the time:
- during your academic courses
- with others in your home, family and social life
- participating in sports and other activities
- getting involved with student societies and groups
- through volunteering, Rag and Action projects
- in any employment or work experience
Loughborough University, Students' Union, the Sports Development Centre, and Hall communities provide a huge range of opportunities to get involved and to enhance skills and attributes.
There is also a wide range of skills sessions and workshops that you can attend to help develop your skills and enhance your employability.
Opportunities range from self-awareness to academic writing, from foreign languages to presentation skills and mindfulness, from being enterprising to learning from failure.
Careers-related skills courses and workshops (see Apply for opportunities).
Skills and personal development sessions, representation, and volunteering www.lsu.co.uk
Study and information literacy skills courses www.lboro.ac.uk/library/skills/index.html
Student Support Centre:
Courses and enhancement of English language skills www.lboro.ac.uk/admin/elsu/index.htm
Student and College Liaison Team:
Paid opportunities in the Student Ambassador scheme, which recruits once a year. More details at: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/students/ambassadors/
Mathematics Learning Support Centre: Courses and support in mathematics and statistics mlsc.lboro.ac.uk/services.php
Language Centre: Give your degree an international edge http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/languages
Loughborough Employability Award
The Loughborough Employability Award recognises the skills and competencies you gain from being involved in activities outside your degree programme; such as volunteering, committees, sports, part-time and vacation work and other activities which offer you the opportunity for personal development.
Getting involved in the Employability Award is a great way to enhance your skills and personal development. Learn more about what motivates and inspires you, and how to articulate your skills and experiences on your CV and for recruitment application forms and interviews.
Develop skills by volunteering
Volunteering is essentially about offering your time to do something useful, but without receiving payment! So, why do it? Apart from helping a group, a charity or an individual, volunteering can also be life-changing, it enables you to make new friends and it can be fun! It can also help you to develop valuable employability skills like team working, communication and time management.
There are many opportunities for voluntary work locally, elsewhere in the UK and abroad. Some organisations may pay you expenses for meals and travel, or offer accommodation if appropriate. However, if you are thinking of taking part in a particular project or expedition, you may have to raise funds in order to take part.
Volunteering may also be a necessary part of your preparation for a future careers in the voluntary and care sectors, social work, criminal justice, environmental conservation and similar areas. The media industry also relies on volunteers for local and hospital radio stations and also local newspapers.
Any kind of work experience is valuable and can provide you with the opportunity:
- to put theory learning into practice.
- to consider career options.
- to find out what you like or do not like doing.
- to get some practical experience to develop your skills and attributes.
If you want to know more about volunteering then please take a look at these details from Volunteer England.
There are many sources of volunteering opportunities and some organisation advertise on Careers Online. The Sports Development Centre and Loughborough Students' Union also offer lots of volunteer roles. See ‘Get Involved’ www.lsu.co.uk.
What is the difference between unpaid work experience and volunteering?
Unpaid work experience tends to be more structured and is about gaining experience in a specified workplace for a short period of time.
In most cases, volunteering is associated with a charitable or not-for-profit organisation and may involve supporting other volunteers, often a few hours a day, or a day a week, or on a temporary basis.
Being enterprising can mean having a business idea you would like to investigate and maybe launch a new company. It can also mean having an enterprising attitude or approach to existing organisational or business issues.
Most companies like to employ people who are good at researching and generating new ideas, approaches and process improvements, i.e. who have an enterprising approach. Some use the term intrapreneurialism (generating new ideas within an existing business) in contrast to entrepreneurialism (usually used to describe starting up a new business).
Some students learn about enterprise and entrepreneurialism within their courses, but if you would like practical advice about setting up a new enterprise or being an entrepreneur, visit Loughborough Student Enterprise Hub at the Students' Union Piazza. Look up www.lsu.co.uk/enterprise for some initial advice and information, or just pop in and say hello.
The Student and Graduate Enterprise Office can also provide very valuable advice to students with events and competitions, and even space to grow a new business http://www.lboro.ac.uk/enterprise/studententerprise/
Personal development and self awareness
Self-awareness of your skills and personal attributes is very important when you apply for placements, internships, jobs or further study. You will need to be ready to articulate the experience and skills you have gained and provide some examples.
The University provides advice from careers consultants and academic tutors, skills and job-search workshops, and self-assessment tools.
For more information and advice visit the Loughborough University Graduate Attributes webpages.