How To Save Time And Hustle For Your Career While Still At Uni

When it comes to succeeding in the workforce today, preparation is everything. Gone are the days of jobs waiting patiently for university graduates once they finish their studies, with the contemporary job market having more in common with the gladiatorial arena than the offices of old.

With that in mind, it is never too early to start working on your career, with your university days being the perfect time to start gaining real work experience and preparing to enter the workplace. We’ve teamed up with Swinburne University of Technology and put together a list of savvy and creative ways you can get ahead of the game and start working on your career while you’re still at uni.

1. Don’t Travel For Uni Break, Work

This one might be a no-brainer, but considering how many students these days seem to be saving all their money to go drinking in another time zone for 3 months over the summer holidays, it bears considering. Not only will staying and working through the summer help give you a head start on all the globe-trotters you share your classes with, by saving the money you would spend, plus earning a little more, you can start working on the next phase in your life.

2. Start Your Side Hustle Now

Investing in a side hustle is one of the best ways to work on your career while still at uni. Whether it is an Etsy store selling vintage clothes or your own freelance creative work, nothing will impress a potential employer more than proof that you are not only capable of running your own initiative but that you are ambitious enough to have been doing so while at uni. Plus, unlike sinking all your cash into drinks or draping yourself in the latest fashions, investing in your side hustle will pay dividends both financially and in terms of your career.

3. Do Your Research And Find The Right Degree For You

Before you even make a start on your career, you have to choose your degree. Making sure you pick the right one can almost be as important as your performance. As employers today are looking for employees with ever more diverse skills, selecting a degree that plays to all your strengths rather than just one is more important now than ever. Want to study media but also have a passion for indigenous rights? Why not gather up your electives and do a double degree in both? Have your heart set on law but you also want to explore your love of music? Ask your department if they have any leads for internship opportunities in the industry. Most importantly though, don’t let a lack of knowledge stop you from pursuing the degree of your dreams. Even if you didn’t take the right subjects in high school, you can take bridging courses – like those offered by Swinburne’s UniLink diploma program – that will get you up to speed and on the road to making your uni dreams come true.

4. Apply For All The Internships You Can Find, And Even Ones You Can’t

Finding internships is assumed wisdom these days, but that doesn’t mean you need to take only what is offered. It’s no secret that unpaid internships often lead to paid positions, so why would you not apply to intern with the company of your dreams, be it Deutsche Bank or Disney. The fact of the matter is that half of available jobs are not advertised and that is even more true of internships, so aim high and don’t be afraid of rejection, it’s all part of the process. Learn more, here.

5. Volunteer

Volunteering can be another great way to show potential employers that you are not only capable but also hardworking. Whether it’s for international organisations like Amnesty International, the World Wildlife Fund or just your local community centre, volunteering may not lead to paid positions in the way internships do, but they do often offer more responsibility and autonomy and thus can make you appear as an even more valuable employee. Learn more, here.

6. Sign Up To Any Student Association Related To Your Career, And A Few That Aren’t

Let’s face it, networking is everything (it’s how I got the job writing this article) and the best way to do that while at uni is to join university societies or student associations. And while the people you meet there may not yet be the kind of titans of industry you’d be hoping to rub shoulders with, you never know when they might pop back up on your path to success. So use your downtime wisely and join a choir, or a yoga class or see a talk about dinosaurs. The goal is to broaden your horizons. At the end of the day, employers will always value personal recommendations so don’t limit yourself to ‘cold-applying’ for jobs.

7. Find A University That’s Flexible

Just as the workforce has changed, so too have universities, with many these days offering a variety of different programs allowing students unprecedented flexibility in how they choose to study. Certain courses offer flexible study options like blended learning programs or part time study, allowing you to pursue employment opportunities that you would otherwise be unable to with a full-time study load. Especially useful for students returning for second degrees while still working, it’s never been easier to make university work for you.

8.Embrace minimalism

OK, this one might seem extreme but think about it. You don’t really need most of the stuff you own, and getting rid of it will increase your productivity dramatically. There’s logic in this, I swear. Clothes for instance. Instead of having myriad outfits in different colours, try buying everything in black. That way, you waste zero time trying to figure out if this shirt goes with that pair of pants, freeing up your headspace and schedule for Stuff That Matters. (Additional benefit – you can even get dressed in the dark.) Is there a correlation between Steve Jobs’ closetful of black turtlenecks and his near-superhuman output? I think yes.

9. Start Applying For Jobs Now

Practice makes perfect, and applying for jobs is no different. So if you hope to land a job straight out of uni, you better get practising. While there are a lot of great resources for this kind of thing online, there is no experience like real life experience. First interview jitters can be eased by making sure you have practice with interviewing and applying before you go for that job that you have your heart set on. Be ready to be rejected but make sure you learn from it by asking for feedback on how your application could have been improved or if you made any mistakes that can be avoided in the future.

10. Get Professional Advice

Even if you do all the above, still the biggest mistake you could make is thinking you are in this alone and not seek out advice. And while the counsel of family and loved ones is of great value, why not seek some professional advice on how to get a jump start on your career. Pretty much every university will have some kind of career-planning department – such as Swinburne’s Centre for Career Development. If not, an Industry Study Tour abroad could just be the right amount of eye-popping cultural experience plus real life industry mentoring you need.