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Cambridge University Careers Service



With 1 million youth and graduates unemployed this may cause anxiety amongst some students. 

Please be reassured, you are employable, our graduates have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the UK and no shortage of employers hoping to receive their application (and a rather good Careers Service to help them). However, students do need to engage with the Service and to meet employers before making well-constructed applications. At a recent Careers Event (attended by 60 employers, the majority of whom were offering a broad range of opportunities to students of any degree discipline) the Careers Service were struck by how few Arts graduates (amongst the 450 students) chose to attend – only 4 English students, 2 Musicians, 1 Classicist, and 1 Philosopher.

These degree subjects are sought after by employers. In previous years Arts students had been attending in much greater numbers. Please remember, you are not required to have a clear idea on your future career before seeing the Careers Service and they offer many more opportunities other than careers in the City sector.


Broaden your horizons - Plan 'B'

The Careers Service have encountered many students who are too optimistic in thinking that their applications will automatically succeed. This applies particularly to those chasing ‘City’ careers. Few of them have considered a ‘Plan B’. Of the 1,100 students who attended a Management Consultancy event, 770 were finalists. Based on last year’s destination figures, 1 in 10 will succeed entering this occupation; 690 will be disappointed. Please do not to spend so much time on one sector but broaden your thinking and look at near-neighbouring careers, where the chances of success are much greater. It is likely that there will see a large cohort of rejected and dejected students returning to the Service in January with no offer of employment. The advice to this group will include the strong suggestion that they now focus on their studies and use the service again immediately after graduation (when they aim still to have a good range of opportunities on offer starting later in the autumn).


Work experience

More and more employers are now expecting to see some relevant work experience on an application form from a finalist student. Even a week’s work-shadowing undertaken a year or two earlier makes an invitation to interview more likely. The Careers Service can help  penultimate year students secure this useful experience.

The Careers Service can provide students with contacts of recent alumni willing to help, details of 3,000 organisations keen to take a Cambridge intern plus all the advice on preparing a CV and succeeding at interview. Furthermore, they also offer 40 Internship Bursaries a year, each to the value of £500, to current students undertaking low-paid or unpaid work experience in the charitable, voluntary, arts, publishing and media sectors. An additional bonus for students undertaking internships before their final year is that a growing proportion now receive an offer of employment starting once they’ve graduated. Students, once they have decided to accept this offer, can devote their entire final year at Cambridge to their studies and never need attend another company presentation, fill in any more  forms, or visit the Careers Service.  

As more employers recruit permanent hires through their internship programs, the number of open opportunities for finalists reduces. Several large employers have told the service that most of their finalist opportunities were filled a year ago by their successful interns. Please think about how you will be using your summer next year!


careers ppt

(Cambridge University Careers Presentation by Catherine Alexander pdf)