Five things to do this August to get ahead in your career

Our members have been getting in touch with us and a lot of you feel you've missed the career boat this summer. And now you're wondering what you can do to get ahead for the next application cycle.

For internships next summer or graduate schemes starting in September 2017, most application windows open this September. However that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to start thinking about career opportunities. Here are five things you can do right now to put you on the path to career success.

1. Plan your strategy

Due to the highly cyclical nature of the graduate recruitment process, you can have a good idea of what opportunities will be out there and how the application process works. This summer, start researching companies you're interested in and the roles that excite you. Really think about why you’re keen to go into a particular sector or firm. Having a clear idea will help you on application forms as well as at interview.

If you’ve done much of the prep work already, when you do apply it won’t feel like such a laborious task. Plus you can get your applications in as early as possible - which is highly recommended because most firms start filling assessment centre and interview places on a rolling basis. 

2. Look for networking opportunities

Things go a little quiet over the summer with most students heading back home, but there are a number of networking opportunities just around the corner. Look out for events in Setember and beyond where you can meet top firms and find out more about different careers. We have some of our own, including the unrivalled Bright Network Festival

When you’re back on campus, many top firms will be hosting talks, drinks and skills sessions right on your doorstep. Now’s a great time to find out what’s going on and book your place at these events. Bear in mind some of the more competitive careers events require an application. Here’s a list of some of the events you could be attending in the upcoming months. 

3. Get your CV in shape

Your CV is essential when applying for opportunities. It will almost always be the first thing an employer sees and dictates whether you make it any further in the application process. Review your CV this summer and make sure it’s fully updated and relevant to the firms you’re applying to. Have a think about the structure, ensuring it’s easy to read and concise. Focus on the skills you’ve developed and how you’ve had an impact on projects at university, during work experience and in any extracurricular activities.

If you need a bit of help perfecting your CV, take a look at our top tips.

4. Become commercially aware

You’ve probably noticed there have been some major political and economic changes this summer, and staying on top of what’s going can be tricky. It's worth it though. When you fill out application forms or go to interview you’ll be expected to have an opinion on key stories and how they impact on the sector andfirm you’re applying to.

Being commercially aware doesn’t mean reading the FT cover to cover each day. An excellent place to start is Radio 4’s Today Programme or reading The Week and The Economist can help you track stories over a period of time. To get you started, our Commercial Awareness update summarises and analyses the top stories each week - sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox.

5. Opportunities open early

September is the key time for applications but some big firms open their application window early and are keen for students to apply over the summer. Often these will be exclusive or fast track opportunities, and may offer you the chance to secure a graduate role or internship earlier. You can then focus on your studies while you’re at university safe in the knowledge you've lined up a role for the following summer.

Keep checking the Bright Network website for live opportunities. Good luck with your applications and please get in touch if you have any questions.

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