5 Skills That All Your Future Employers Will Be Looking For

You’re in the process of building up the knowledge needed to carry out your future job. While it’s essential to have a good understanding of the academic concepts behind your work (which you’ll be able to demonstrate with the shiny certificate that gets handed to you at the end of your degree), there are numerous practical skills that all employers are always on the lookout for.

These skills aren’t necessarily things that you’ll pick up in uni (although some of them are), so it’s a good idea to find extracurricular ways of demonstrating your ability.

  1. Teamwork

Unless you’re going straight into a freelance position, it’s highly unlikely that you’re not going to come into contact with the other employees in your future job. Whether you choose to join a small company or a large one, you’ll be working with staff in various departments on various tasks, and you need to demonstrate to your employer that you’ve got what it takes to work with others.

There are a few ways that you can demonstrate your teamwork mindset to your potential employer. Place emphasis on any group projects that you’ve undergone throughout your degree, and highlight points in the process where you listened to the advice of others or took control of the group, because your employer will want to know how well you actually work with other people.

If you haven’t carried out any group projects in uni, you can draw attention to extracurricular activities that highlight your ability to work in a team. This can be anything from team sports to playing in a band – anything that outlines your ability to work alongside others.

  1. Organisation

Throughout your studies, you’ll start to build a good understanding of what it’s like working to deadlines. When you eventually enter the world of work, your employer will usually expect you to stick rigidly to the deadlines that you are set – it could be that the work you do is time-sensitive, or another employee’s job is reliant on you completing your part on time.

For this reason it’s important that you demonstrate to your employer that you’re organised enough to meet these deadlines. A good way to do this is to highlight how you managed your time throughout your degree, and how this then led to your success at an academic level.

Another way to illustrate your ability to organise yourself is to take up relevant side-projects while you study. Not only does this demonstrate a level of enthusiasm for the role, but it also shows your employer that you have the ability to manage your time properly, while balancing various projects at once.

  1. Communication

Communication is an essential skill to master, regardless of the career that you choose to go into. Wherever you work, you’ll have to communicate with others, whether it’s your colleagues, your boss, or your clients: you’ll have to explain (sometimes difficult) concepts to other people.

You’ll have to communicate with people both verbally and in writing, so it’s important that you demonstrate that you’ve got the ability to piece together clear and structured arguments. Fortunately, your university will give you plenty of opportunities to prove yourself as a great communicator, and you can use this to your advantage in interviews.

Explain to your potential employer how you’ve communicated concepts through presentations, and how you’ve produced verbal arguments in your essay writing. Pair this with any extracurricular activities such as online blogging, then present yourself with confidence, and the employer should snap you up.

  1. Leadership

It’s always good to keep in mind that your potential employer doesn’t want to hire staff who are going to stay at the bottom of the ladder. They want to hire people who will develop and become assets to their organisation, and an important element of this – for you – is assuming further responsibilities as the job role progresses.

As your career progresses you’ll be expected to take control of certain situations, and possibly even lead others in the role that you were previously doing. For this reason, employers are on the lookout for people with strong leadership skills, even if the role doesn’t directly require you to lead others.

If you need to demonstrate leadership skills in an interview (which you will), you can use any group-work that you might have done in uni to your advantage, highlighting how you took an authoritative role in the project and assessed the skills of your group to produce the most effective results – remember, results-driven answers will impress your employer.

5. Self-Discipline

Even if your potential employer offers a great training scheme, they still don’t want to have to hold your hand throughout the process. They will be there to support you, but they need to know that you’ll be able to take the initiative to carry out work on your own as well. For this reason, it’s key that you demonstrate that you can show self-discipline, learn new concepts, and take control of your own time.

When you’re in uni, you’re probably used to rolling out of bed late in the afternoon, making yourself some toast and then heading off to your lecture, but your employer needs to know that you’ve got the self-discipline to get out of bed in the morning and make it into work on time.

You can demonstrate self-discipline by explaining to your potential employer how you managed your time through the busy exam period in uni, balanced any side projects while you studied, and managed to hold down a part-time job throughout your studies.

Learn How to Develop Your Skills Beyond Uni

Permanent employment might seem like it’s a long way off at the minute, but it’s always good to give yourself a head start, especially when it comes to your future career. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, take a look at our blog for tips on student life and much more.

Being Eco-Friendly on a Student Budget

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How to Be Eco-Friendly on a Student Budget

Thankfully, it seems like everybody has clocked on to the fact that we need to start treating Planet Earth a lot better than we have been doing. We can all do our bit, and it’s not just bold and expensive moves (like getting solar panels) that make a difference – anyone and everyone can get involved, including students like you.

Here are some simple and reasonable ways that you can do your bit.

Avoid single-use plastic wherever possible

We all know that single-use plastic is harmful to the environment, but it is quite hard to avoid when we’re food-shopping. Milk bottles, fruit boxes, meat trays, drinks bottles, carrier bags, and so on – it all adds up. And despite increased efforts to recycle across the world, the fact remains that millions of tonnes of this single-use plastic ends up in our oceans each year.

Completely swerving single-use plastic may be nigh-on impossible, but there are several clever ways that we can at least avoid some of it:

  • Buy a stainless-steel drinks bottle. Forget crates of mineral water. Just get yourself a Brita water jug (£20ish) and a stainless-steel drinks bottle (£10ish), and there’s your source of nice clean water all sorted. Make sure that the bottle you buy is stainless-steel, because ones made from other metals (like aluminium) can be harmful to your health in the long run.
  • Get some reusable carrier bags. That 5p carrier-bag charge is pretty annoying, but it’s actually making a positive impact in the fight against needless plastic. If those sturdy bags-for-life at the supermarket tills don’t float your boat (stylistically), then you can still take your own bags with you each time you head out for groceries – the internet is full of nice tote bags and canvas bags that will do the job perfectly. This investment doesn’t really save you money (at least not immediately), but it doesn’t break the bank, either, and it does save the planet – which is what we’re really aiming for here. The fewer carrier bags we buy, the fewer will end up in our landfills, on our streets, and in our oceans.
  • Buy loose fruit and veg. Buying fruit and veg from old-fashioned greengrocers and market stalls may be more expensive than buying from the supermarkets, but not much more expensive – and, besides, the produce is often far fresher and tastier from these vendors.
  • Boycott plastic straws. Next time you’re getting a drink on a night out or in a fast-food restaurant, try to do without the straw – there’s a good chance that it will eventually end up in the ocean, in and among all those beautiful creatures. If you need any more convincing, do a Google search for “sea turtle with plastic straw up its nostril” – a pretty upsetting video, as you can imagine.

Eat less dairy and less meat

We’re not suggesting that you go full-on vegetarian or vegan – unless you want to or you already are! – because we know how big an ask that is. It’s hard to imagine life without cheese, for example. But just cutting down on meat and dairy is actually quite achievable for everyone, and it’s much easier than it first sounds. Most of all, though, it’s great for the planet. How great? Well, put it this way: the production of red meat produces more carbon emissions than the use of cars. That’s a pretty crazy stat, isn’t it?

If everyone on Earth were to make small sacrifices when it comes to dairy and meat, these efforts would collectively make big differences to the health of the environment.

By all means, still have your fried halloumi and your crumbled feta and your creamy cheddar, but maybe try to balance that out by having dairy-substitutes elsewhere – such as non-dairy milk on your cereal or in your tea and coffee, or olive-based spreads instead of butter. Sure, the taste of these substitutes might take a bit of getting used to, but you won’t even think about it after a while. On the flipside, if you’re smitten with cows’ milk but you’re not particularly mad about cheese, give the latter up instead.

The same applies to meat: indulge in a nice big steak or a loaded bacon butty when you feel like treating yourself, but try to avoid having meat just for the sake of it. A plate of food is still a meal even if there’s no meat on it.

Curry is one type of dish where meat is arguably just filler. Sure, a lamb jalfrezi on a Saturday night is an undeniable delight, but there are so many other flavours going on in that dish – flavours that are bolder and more distinctive. The meat isn’t necessary every time. Plus, there are very few vegetables that don’t work well in curry, so you can chuck virtually any in there to pad it out.

The same goes for spaghetti and pasta. Do you really need the chunks of chicken or the minced beef in that rich sauce? Doesn’t the tomato, onion, and garlic do most of the work? If you need something chewy in there to substitute the meat, opt for mushrooms or even lentils for a veggie bolognese.

Also, from a purely selfish and financial perspective, cutting down on meat is better for your pocket, and means more money for those nights out or those weekends away exploring other parts of the UK.

Take tactical showers

Only 1% of Earth’s water is available for our consumption. The rest of it is in the oceans and therefore too salty for us to use, or is frozen in the polar ice caps. As such, water is actually precious – not some magically unlimited resource – so we Earthlings need to collectively work to reduce water-wastage.

If you’re taking showers instead of having baths, you’re already doing some good. They say that a regular bathful of water is around 80 litres (or 140 pints), whereas a five-minute shower uses around 45 litres (or 79 pints).

But 45 litres is still quite a lot of water just to clean ourselves each morning, isn’t it? We can easily use less water than that and still come out squeaky clean. Here’s how…

Instead of having the shower on for the full five minutes that you’re in it, just have it on for 30 seconds at the start to get yourself wet, then turn it off while you apply your shower gel, facewash, shampoo, and so on. (Plus, doing it this way means that you’ll actually get to properly soap yourself rather than washing it all off as soon as it goes on.) Then, once the lather is covering you and making you look a bit like a cloud, you turn the shower back on for about a minute or so to rinse the suds off. All in all, that’s about 14-18 litres (or 25-32 pints).

Here are other ways to save water:

  • Turn the tap off when you’re doing the actual brushing of your teeth
  • Boil just the exact amount of water you need each time you use the kettle (fill up your cup – or however many cups – with water, then pour this into the kettle)
  • Use just a little bit of hot water to create the soapy suds you need to do the washing up – no need to half-fill the sink and submerge everything in there
  • Save your dirty washing for when you’ll have a full washing machine (obviously, make sure you still wash whites and colours separately)

Walk it, cycle it, or bus it – instead of driving

Having your own car gives you plenty of freedom to go where you want, when you want, but with more vehicles on the roads, the environment suffers more carbon emissions.

We’re not saying don’t take your own car to uni with you – we know how it makes travelling home to see family much easier, and how it enables you to get away for a day or two. But when it comes to day-to-day trips while you’re in your uni city – like going to McDonald’s, or the cinema, or the supermarket – do you really need to drive there? Probably not. All we’re saying is that if you can walk there, cycle there, or take the bus there, then that’s gonna be better for Planet Earth in the long run.

This will also save you money – either a little or a lot, depending on what your current car situation is. If you do have a car and plan to take it to uni, then only using it for long trips will make your petrol spend a lot smaller. If you’ve decided that you don’t need to take the car at all, and would instead prefer to get a bike or just walk to most places, then you won’t have any of the costs of running a car.

Read our blog for more tips on student living

How does that all sound? Not too hard, right? Let us know what you think – tweet us or leave us a comment on Facebook.

For more student-advice articles and other musings, take a look at our other blog posts. We upload a couple of new ones each month, so keep an eye out!

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What Are the Most Popular Undergrad Degrees in the UK?

Despite some of the more weird and wonderful course options available to students these days, the usual suspects are still top of the leaderboard. Thanks to earning-potential and the range of career options provided by each, it’s unlikely that these degrees will be going out fashion anytime soon. If you haven’t made a final decision about which course to apply for, this article will give you a good overview of what everyone else is choosing – we’ll bet that you know at least one person studying one of these subjects.

Medicine

Why it’s popular: Medicine has always been a popular choice when it comes to undergraduate degrees. Whether it’s a personal calling or a calculated choice based on the graduate salary, the course always has a spot near the top of degree rankings. Despite the length of time it takes to gain the degree, it remains a sought-after choice, with the option to specialise later down the line.

Where to study: Cambridge, Oxford, Queen Mary

Tips for applying: Medicine is a highly competitive field, and you’ll need excellent grades in the sciences and maths as a bare minimum.

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