Blog post

The Careers and Employment Service: my experience

Throughout my experience as an undergraduate student at the University of Derby I have engaged with the Careers and Employment Service (CES) many times. From improving my CV to preparing for interviews, this service continues to be absolutely instrumental in supporting me on my journey toward a successful career. The staff are friendly, encouraging and professional, while equipping students with everything they need to improve their employability.

By Nigel Duffus - 22 March 2019

Preparing for the future

When I started my bachelor's degree in 2018 I was in quite a financially unstable position, so I needed to be sure I could support myself while studying at university. When I carried out my own research into the CES I was impressed with how much the service has to offer - not only to the unemployed but to students who wanted general career advice, help with career planning, changing a course and many other subjects.

Interview skills: working on myself

Through their professional booking and drop-in service, I was able to attend many mock interviews and CV and cover letter advice meetings. Before signing up with the CES I was not receiving interview invites no matter how many different jobs I applied for. I knew it was time to get expert advice about improving the chances of being asked to interview. I'm delighted to say that since CES reviewed my CV and I applied their advice, I have been invited to one interview after another. In fact, in less than a year with the CES I had already experienced seven interviews out of seven applications - the final interview resulting in a job offer!

Learning about how to make myself more attractive to employers has also helped me to appreciate the importance of a well-written CV, as it is the first impression an employer has of you when applying for a job. I learned the importance of highlighting key skills, proof-reading the content, using a clear structure, and supplying evidence of my achievements.

Furthermore, I have had a number of mock interviews with staff from the CES who were highly supportive and encouraging as I prepared for upcoming interviews. For each mock interview, the interviewer would review a copy of the job description and ask the types of questions that would most likely be asked on the big day. A review of the session would then be emailed to me highlighting the key improvement points, and each was explained clearly and professionally.

Personal feedback

For most of my meetings with the CES team I was able to spend at least 30 minutes in a one-on-one consultation, and I didn't even have to worry about travelling outside the campus to attend. I was able to take the time to make notes about all the advice I was given, so I always left feeling more confident about my interview day. My interviewers always gave positive feedback about my performance, so the advice I had been given was obviously very effective!

The new me

Thanks to the CES I have developed important people skills such as effective communication, active listening and flexible working. I have also developed other transferable skills such as forward planning, organisation and application of knowledge. All these things combined have not only significantly boosted my career prospects, but have led directly to my current employment with the University's Student Marketing Recruitment Team. When using the CES, there really is nothing to lose but everything to gain!

Advice for others

Whether you want to choose a career plan, develop recognised skills, gain experience or embrace course related opportunities, CES has something for everyone! Building a strong relationship with the University's CES team is the single most beneficial commitment I have ever made as an undergraduate student, and I am sure it will continue to pay great dividends in boosting my future employability prospects.

I would also advise other students not to be overwhelmed and give up at the first hurdle because every obstacle is also an opportunity to learn something new and discover more about yourself. True success is not measured by the absence of disappointments or hindrances; it is about learning to overcome the barriers that prevent your personal growth. Becoming goal-oriented and showing resilience and determination through setbacks has helped me develop new skills and achieve more than I once thought possible. Even more importantly, it has contributed to my sense of lasting fulfilment and achievement.

About the author

Nigel Duffus
BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health

Nigel is a student at the University of Derby studying Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health BSc (Hons) with the view to becoming a Health Promotion Specialist or Nutritionist. He also volunteers with LiveWell Derby - Steps For The Future, helping to facilitate Movement to Music and Nutrition classes for mentally disadvantaged young and older adults alike.