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Graduate scheme blogs

Hear from some of our graduates...

"Who knew university would actually teach you something?"

Nicola Cook - Graduate Trainee, currently completing our 2021-22 graduate scheme

When I left university, my first thought through my head was ‘what have I actually learnt during those four years’. Obviously, I learnt the skills required to complete my degree and to begin applying it to the real world. But what about the skills all employers look for – the “transferable skills”. The skills that make you stand out to employers, even if you don’t have specific experience in one particular industry.

My degree was Accounting and Finance, and I believed my skills were only suitable for that industry. But when I started my graduate job at The Wigley Group, where I am spending time within each business area of the company, I realised how many of my skills were transferable. These skills weren’t just learnt during my modules, but they were also the skills I picked up throughout the whole university experience.

Many of these transferable skills are skills I didn’t even realise I had until I sat down and went through them one by one and understood how they assist my workday.

People skills and relationship building

When starting university, you are placed into a brand-new environment, most likely not knowing anyone. By approaching new people and starting conversations you are improving your people skills without even realising.

In those early days, I was anxious about introducing myself to new people. However, as time passed, I became more relaxed about approaching people for the first time, and now I do not give it a second thought. I am confident to approach and communicate with clients, suppliers and tenants, and deal with them in a professional and positive way.

Having the ability to communicate with new people is vital in many workplaces, not just for communicating with clients, customers, and suppliers, but also for fitting in with colleagues. People skills is an extremely versatile skill and is a must-have in all industries and workplaces.

Adaptability

Being at university during the Covid-19 pandemic massively improved my adaptability. The sudden change from having seminars and lectures in person to it all being online was difficult and challenging but it highlighted that I was able to adapt if I needed to.

My final year was completed solely online and showed me that going forward I can adapt successfully to different situations should I be required to. It also showed me I can do this without causing a detriment to my work performance.

If this year has taught me anything, it is that things can change within the drop of a hat, and we all need to be able to adapt as successfully as we can.

Time management

Completing three to four different modules at the same time is a lot! Typically, each module consists of 4 hours of teaching a week, 8 hours of own learning, coursework and an exam. Being able to juggle all this, whilst still maintaining things such as a job, time with family, time with friends etc is very impressive and something to highlight when applying for jobs. My time at university allowed me to plan my work and organise it accordingly to when it was due in. This can be easily applied to my workload currently; I constantly review what I need to complete and organise it to ensure deadlines are met.

These are only a few of the skills that could be learnt during your time at university, but there are many more: problem solving, analytical reasoning, critical thinking, leadership, teamwork, writing, listening, creativity, attention to detail, project management, and so much more!

Leaving university is daunting, you are placed into the working world unsure about what skills you have. It is crucial to understand how vital and beneficial transferable skills no matter what industry you decide to venture into.

My advice – don’t panic, review what you have learnt and figure out what your transferable skills are. We all have them; it’s about highlighting what we have and learning the ones we need. Then apply for the job you want, regardless of if it is in your degree industry, and bring attention to the transferable skills you do have.

Turns out university really did teach us something!

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