Develop your career focus

Tracey Dall
Monday 19 February 2024

In this post, Charlie Norman, one of our Peer Support Assistants, provides hints and tips on how to develop your career focus.

Whether you’re just starting to think about careers or are actively searching for the “next steps”, it can all feel very… overwhelming. There’s so much information out there, and it can be hard to know where to look for advice, inspiration, and opportunities. But don’t despair!  Here’s how you can start to take control, and how the Careers Centre can support you in your career journey. 

Tip 1. Find your values 

This all about you and your future, so before you try to understand careers – try to understand yourself! Good careers decisions are personal, and only you know what’s right for you.  

Spend some time reflecting on your motivations, strengths, and values, including experiences you’ve had in the past, and what excites you about the future. Ways of doing this include: 

Taking a personality test. Some that we recommend include: 

  • 16Personalities – offers a description of who you are and why you do things the way you do. 
  • O*NET Interest Profiler – helps you work out what your interests are and how they relate to the world of work. 
  • VIA Strengths Survey – provides information to help you understand your character strengths.

Tip 2. Gain experience

  • Don’t miss our Part-time jobs and volunteering fair, which will take place on Wednesday 6 March from 2pm-4pm in the Town Hall, Queen’s Gardens, St Andrews. Meet local employers and charities who are offering part-time, seasonal and volunteering opportunities.
  • Apply to the St Andrews Summer Internship Scheme.  Open to registered undergraduates in the following years:  
    • second-year undergraduates enrolled on a four-year degree
    • third-year undergraduates enrolled on a five-year degree.
  • Discover what you enjoy by finding an internship, joining university societies, volunteering your time, or undertaking part-time work.
  • You could also try to enhance your skills through study, including Laidlaw Scholarships, study abroad and the St Andrews Research Internship Scheme.
  • Work experience doesn’t have to be directly related to your degree, or what you want to do in the future- discovering what you find fulfilling takes time and an open mind! You can gain work experience through our Work Shadowing programme.  Shadowing happens in many forms and across many sectors, but in this programme you will typically shadow someone in the workplace. Shadowing occurs as an in-person or virtual experience for a day to a week. The type of shadowing will vary, depending on the host’s availability.

Putting it on paper 

  • A well-crafted CV is vital if you want to impress an employer and secure an interview. Even if you’re not yet ready to start applying to jobs, why not start making one now?  
  • By going through the CV making process, you can find some clarity about who you are, what experience and skills you already have, and any gaps you might like to fill.  
  • Check out our resources to help you with your CV

Booking an appointment 

  • Our 15-minute appointments are a fantastic opportunity to discuss your career-related queries or to have your CV/cover letter checked over.

Tip 3. Find opportunities 

The Careers Centre, individual schools, and employers all organize a range of events throughout the year. These are a great way to make contacts, gain employability skills and learn about opportunities for the future. 

Tip 4. Find a network 

Connect with employers and alumni to find opportunities and receive great advice. Here are some ways you can make a connection: 

  • Use Saint Connect to connect with alumni and expand your professional networks. 
  • Sign up to CoffeeConnect to be matched with an alumnus who can offer guidance and inspiration related to your own experience.  
  • Use Linkedin to make connections and explore opportunities.

Tip 5. Find support 

The Careers Centre can help at every stage of your career journey.  

And finally

If you have any questions regarding our services or resources, please submit an online query via CareerConnect. 

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