Guest blog by Cardiff Alumni Catherine Walters from Enterprise-Rent-A-Car …
When I think back to the start of my final year, awkwardly approaching employer’s stands at careers fairs, I remember feeling daunted by the whole idea of graduating and entering the real world. I never thought in just two years I would be on the other side of the stand as a recruiter trying to attract the best students. Listening to all the amazing opportunities that were available and looking at all the competition that surrounded me, I knew that I had to make myself more employable to stand out to recruiters. I was aware that a degree on its own just wasn’t enough to secure a graduate job that would provide me with career opportunities.
At this time the Cardiff Award was still very new and in its second year, so only a handful of students got the opportunity to take part compared to how it has grown in recent years. Having missed the original deadline, I lucky enough to hear of some spaces becoming free, so I jumped at the chance of applying! I knew from my first induction that I was going to be kept busy had lots of opportunities available to me to help develop my skills and increase my employability.
The Award gave me credit for my extra-curricular activities and encouraged me to do more outside of my studies by getting involved with what the university had to offer. I engaged with the Student Volunteering Service and became a Project Coordinator, as well as doing a Go Wales work taster with Cardiff Council in the HR Department. I also got involved with volunteering opportunities outside of university, which helped improve my communication and leadership skills. Without the Award I would have never tried to do so much to add to my CV- at the start of the year I was afraid I would struggle to fill it but by the end I had too much! The workshops gave me an insight into what employers look for in graduates, and gave me tips and advice on how to perform well during assessments. The fact that the sessions were run by employers themselves made them very informative and up to date based on the current job market. It also gave me an insight on how to increase my presence on social media by creating a LinkedIn profile – a very important tool that recruiters use to know more information about their applicants.
The final presentation brought together all the skills and experience that I had gained and taught me how to sell and present them to employers and show off my abilities. By doing this, I made sure that I wasn’t just listing my experiences, but going into detail about how they developed me as a person and grew my skillset. From this, I felt more confident that I was employable and able to demonstrate the skills that companies would look for in their applicants. This made applying for jobs easier; I felt that I was one step ahead of other applicants as I had the opportunity to meet these employers and attend their workshops to find out exactly what they were looking for. From this help and experience, I secured the first graduate job I applied for with Enterprise by April of my final year.
From the position that I am in now, where I am reviewing graduate applications on a daily basis, I can safely say that the experience that the Cardiff Award gave me was invaluable when it came to my application. If I read an application from graduate or final year student that has engaged in a university award, I instantly know that they are flexible, can communicate well and have a great work ethic – key skills that many employers look for. Not only does an Award help to get you past the application stage, it gives you experiences to use as examples during the interview process – solid evidence that shows you have demonstrated the skills you say that you possess. The Cardiff Award enhanced my employability not just by having a university recognised award on my CV, but by providing me with the tools that I needed to succeed and giving me the opportunity to develop. So my advice to anyone who wants to fill their CV and make themselves more employable, apply for the Cardiff Award, it may turn out to be the best thing you’ve done in university!
Talent Acquisition Coordinator
Enterprise Rent A Car
South Wales & South West England
The Cardiff Award is now recruiting, the deadline for applications is the 12th December – find out more https://twitter.com/CardiffAward