8 Ways To Upskill And Make Yourself More Hireable As A Student Still In Uni

A few tips to help you prepare for the working world! :D

Cover image via @windows (Unsplash) & @jeswinthomas (Unsplash)

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1. Pick up a relevant online course or certification

Make the most of your free time in uni by upskilling yourself through online courses in a related field.

Maybe it's an in-demand tech skill like data science or learning a new foreign language. Or even mastering basics like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. Regardless of the type of online course or certification you choose, this will not only equip you with additional skills, but help set you apart from other job applicants too.

Universities such as Taylor's, for example, offer useful micro credentials under their MircroCred programme. These accredited short courses, such as programming and data analysis (certified by software providers such as Salesforce, Microsoft Azure, as well as Oracle Java), are tailored to appease industry and workforce needs. 

2. Volunteer your skills and time

Even volunteering a few hours a month can go a long way in helping you gain soft skills and build connections. Furthermore, employers often like to see where you invest your time outside of just academics.

You can volunteer with many meaningful causes that align with your goals and interests, both online and on the ground.

Here are a few suggestions on where you can volunteer your skills and time:

- Serve marginalised communities with Kechara Soup Kitchen

- Perform humanitarian work with Mercy Malaysia

- Support the educational and vocational tutoring programme at children's welfare home, Agathians Shelter

- Join a global community that offers language skills to organisations around the world with Translators Without Borders

- Check out Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots programme if you're passionate about animals and the environment

- Champion for human rights with Amnesty International Malaysia

3. Apply for early internships or try freelancing

If freelancing is an option for your industry, try it out to gain actual work experience dealing with clients while earning some side income. Just make sure it doesn't interfere with your studies.

Meanwhile, applying for early internships beyond university requirements can help put your skills and experience from the classroom into real-world perspectives before you graduate. 

This way, you'll get to practice and gain from hands-on duties related to your chosen field (even during the interview process!), besides exploring alternate career paths. By the time you graduate, the experience from completing an internship should give you the confidence to pursue the best career path according to your goals. 

4. Look for an industry mentor

Preparing for a career after completing your studies can be daunting, which is why it would be a tremendous help to have somebody knowledgeable to guide you along the path. Many universities offer first-year guidance to make your transition to campus life easier, and likewise, also provide mentorship programmes that better equips you for post-graduation careers. 

Whether it's a campus programme or lecturer whose work you admire, your university is an excellent first stop when it comes to looking for guidance. Alternatively, you could also reach out to industry professionals with a career path you'd like to emulate via networking or LinkedIn. 

Identify your goals, list down your skills, and clearly express your interest for expert advice. Make sure you do proper research on who you intend to ask for help and highlight why they'd make a great mentor, but remember that this person has no obligation to agree to the favour.

Some will be glad to assume the role of mentor, while others may only afford time for a couple of virtual meetings. But if they agree then, yay! You've gotten yourself an ally to help navigate a professional scene. :D

5. Start crafting a personalised resume

Crafting a personalised resume will give you a good overview of the trajectory you'd like your career to follow, as well as get you thinking about your strengths and weaknesses.

Plus, with the current employment landscape, having a good resume will further impress potential employers before they even meet you. This helps them decide whether or not you are suitable for an interview.

So, how do you boost your resume and stand out from your peers? Again, your career goals play an important role. Once you've identified the companies you see yourself working with, make the effort to tailor your resume to each job application. It's a simple and effective way to show prospective hiring managers that thought went into your application.  

You can highlight your soft skills, like leadership qualities you've gotten from extra-curricular activities. Noteworthy courses or professional certification will help your resume stand out too. Just remember to keep it concise, take out irrelevant info, and you'll catch the attention of employers in no time! :D

6. Join a community of like-minded people

First off, check your university for clubs and societies that you can join to meet people with similar ideas. This is a good way for you to mingle with peers and exchange not only ideas on a particular topic, but also share different perspectives on campus life so far.  

Besides that, you can also search for communities online that share the same aspirations or interests. From creative hubs that come together with a shared love for production to social enterprises that celebrate entrepreneurship, you'll get to discuss ideas beyond the classroom. 

Depending on your interests, other examples include book clubs and tech forums too. Plus, it's also a great way to network and meet people who may work within the same industry. You never know who might recognise your value and connect you to a promising opportunity. 

7. Start a passion project and learn from mistakes

Building off the last point, you can also choose to start a passion project that you've been keeping on the back burner.

Perhaps you're musically inclined and have been wanting to start a band with your mates or possess an entrepreneurial spirit with tech know-how. Whatever your interest is, your extra time in uni is perfect for starting that passion project. And regardless of the outcome, you'll certainly pick up invaluable skills and get to learn from mistakes along the way. 

What's more, organising your time for interests outside of university modules can signal your go-getter attitude, a quality that many prospective employers look for when hiring candidates. Or if your startup takes off thanks to your entrepreneurial skills, you might be looking at potential business partners instead! :P

8. Make room for personal wellbeing

And finally, make sure you do not exert yourself physically and mentally while you prepare for life after graduation. Take all the necessary steps to safeguard the career path you want, but keep in mind that your time as a student — including the friends and connections that you make while in uni — can also arm you with priceless life skills.

It's a well-known fact that too much stress can be counterproductive, and instead hamper your well-meaning efforts. The sooner you implement steps to take better care of your body and mind, the better prepared you'll be as an individual chasing your professional ambitions.

So, don't be afraid to set personal boundaries and learn to air your grievances in a mature manner. This way, you'll get to perform better at work and employers will certainly appreciate this aspect too!

All in all, getting a job doesn't only start after you graduate, but it begins with the little things you do throughout university

At Taylor's University, their unique Taylor'sphere ecosystem develops students academically, creatively, and practically

In today's job market, employers are looking for candidates who not only fit the work scope, but can add value with their creativity, problem-solving, and soft skills. The right environment, networks, and resources at the university level are crucial to enable students to thrive in their future careers, which the Taylor'sphere ecosystem provides.

The institution recently retained its position as Malaysia's leading private university in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020, ranking 16th in the world for the Graduate Employment Rate indicator. Taylor's also saw 99% of their graduates employed or gaining means of income within six months according to survey data by MOHE Graduate Tracer Study 2020.

The university achieves this through future-focused steps, where students are nurtured in three types of intelligence — intellect, practical wisdom, and craft.

Moreover, students are supported by mentorship, networks, and guidance provided by Bizpod, the university's startup incubator, and Taylor's Me.reka Makerspace, a collaborative learning hub

Through Bizpod's partnership with FutureLab, Taylor's University students have access to a community of over 2,600 mentors who hail from the likes of Google, Petronas, Accenture, Deloitte, Shopee, EY, BDO, and many more.

Meanwhile, the university's Me.reka Makerspace welcomes academics, industry players, and entrepreneurial communities to consolidate and cultivate collective impact through value-based innovation. So far, students have even built affordable computers designed to help schoolchildren in the B40 community under Me.reka Makerspace! 

Through both initiatives, students get a boost when it comes to ideation, business planning, coaching, tapping into the right network, and pitching for funding and commercialisation.

All this goes hand in hand with the Taylor'sphere ecosystem, which also aims to foster an entrepreneurial mindset that helps graduates to convert their passion projects and ideas into viable business models.

To find out more about Taylor'sphere and Taylor's undergraduate programmes, head over to their website

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