How attending a careers fair helped me in choosing a career path

A student perspective by Annie Elliott

Going into my second year of university, after a fairly idle first year, I was focused on getting my grades higher and taking my studies more seriously. I had never really considered going to a careers fair until I got a job with the Careers Service and I realised how many opportunities people that don’t attend are missing out on. When people asked me what I wanted to do after university my responses were always vague. Thinking about my career and the ‘real world’ was a daunting prospect and I wanted to put it on hold until I had finished my studies. However, attending the careers fair, I realised I had no reason to feel anxious about this topic but rather it was something I could get excited about.

I was surprised at how many possibilities there were for people without vocational degrees. Being so uncertain about what I wanted to do meant I was open minded and gathered information from a variety of stands. Employers were really friendly and it helped to build my confidence as I talked to people from a wide range of industries in a more informal setting than an interview. I am now comfortable talking to the company representatives and I know what kind of questions to ask. Most of the employers there were recent graduates and they spoke openly about the responsibilities you would get as a graduate and the work cultures of their company. By doing this I was able to gauge the expectations of organisations and get a better understanding of what kind of job would be best suited for me.

One of the areas that peaked my interest the most was the Civil Service Fast Stream. After speaking with a successful applicant, I got many tips about what experience and qualities the assessors look for in candidates. I now have a real insight into the support you get in the Civil Service, what day to day life looks like and the diversity of your role in your first two years. I felt it would be an environment suited to me. I started to think about what I could do now to make myself more employable. I realised that other opportunities such as the Bristol Plus Award and the University’s internship scheme could be good second steps in increasing my prospects for a successful application. After completing a quantitative research internship this summer, and signing up to the Bristol Plus Award, I feel more prepared and confident in my abilities to get the job I want. Having a clear goal in mind has also made me more motivated to work hard in my degree, as I am now aware of the qualification requirements for many graduate schemes.

Going to the careers fair helped me explore the world of work in a casual and enjoyable way. It made me realise that the more research into potential careers and relevant experience I can get, the more likely I am to enjoy life beyond university. For anyone who is undecided on a career path, careers fairs are a great place to start scouting out what’s available, what you want and how to achieve it.