Undergraduate career journey
Starting to explore your career options right from when you first start your degree will help you to have enough information to make decisions when the time comes. This is often earlier than you think as the in the UK, large companies and many funded PhDs recruit between September and December of your final year.
Use the ideas in the tabs below to help you map out activities you may want to do while your at Imperial to build your careers knowledge. Many of the ideas mentioned could be done at any point of your degree so browse through all of the tabs of inspiration. If you are doing a three year degree programme, combine the ideas from the 1st and 2nd year tabs. For MBBS students, explore the specific careers content on MedLearn.
Undergraduate career journey tabs
During your first year you will be adapting to Imperial life, meeting lots of new people and experiencing a lot of new things. All of these will help add to your knowledge of the world, help you to better understand what you do and don’t like and ultimately help you to choose a career. Here are some ideas on how to get started:
- Visit the Careers First Year Zone to help you navigate the what the careers service has to offer and learn how to get involved.
- From the first day of term you’ll be able to personalise your JobsLive account. Choosing your preferences, set the opportunities you think you’re interested in and sign up to the weekly careers email so you don’t miss anything.
- The Horizons programme allows you try out modules that you wouldn’t traditionally take within your degree and meet students from other degree programmes.
- Join a society through the Student Union and get involved in sports, culture and other activities that will build your CV, the network of people you know and have enjoy yourself
- Watch some of the Career Discover Snapshots from the Careers library for short introductions to a range of different industries and roles.
- Knowing people who you can talk to about different careers, or networking, is a good skill to develop early in your degree. Get started by setting up or updating your LinkedIn profile or attending a Careers Essential: LinkedIn session bookable via JobsLive.
- Some major employers run spring or insight experiences with applications often due between October and January.
- The Careers service runs Work shadowing programmes over Easter and Summer to help you better understand specific roles. You’ll find application details in our weekly newsletter.
- Get involved in an employer sponsored competition to build both your CV, your teamworking skills and your knowledge of different industries.
- The Imperial Success guide is packed with tips and information to help you at any time during your studies. From helpful workshops, information on building transferable skills like time management right through to accessing any other support you may need.
Second year of your degree will help you to consolidate your first year learning and begin to think more about what areas of research or practice you enjoy the most. Take some time to reflect on your first year experiences and use that to help you plan for what you’d like to achieve this year.
- Think about what skills you currently have and what skills you may want to build by doing a skills audit as explained on the knowing you skills page.
- Start to practise your networking by attending a careers fair or employer event.
- Develop your Plan: Me to help you map out what you want to get involved in and when would be the best time for that.
- Consider what to do over the summer holidays – work experience, a more research focused UROP, volunteering, or having some time out. Note down any application timelines so you don’t miss out.
- Consider joining or engaging with relevant professional bodies which can be found through the department-specific information in what can I do with my degree.
- Thinking about working internationally? Explore different countries and roles via Going Global.
- Make the most of your i-explore module by learning how to explain what you learnt during it in a CV. Visit our CVs and resumes pages or attend a Careers Essential: CV and Cover Letters bookable via JobsLive.
- International student? Know your rights and understand how your visa status can be explained to potential future employers.
- Interested in running your own project in collaboration with a charity over summer? Apply for funding from the Professional Projects Fund and build both skills and that feeling that you’re really helping.
- Step up and take on a role of responsibility within a student society or extracurricular activity you’re involved in. This will look great on your CV.
In your third year you’ll get the chance to choose more modules you’re interested in and as a more senior student, you can start to get involved in other college activities to build your CV and networks. Employers and researchers target penultimate year students to get involved in internships and research opportunities with the hope they will be interested in applying for full time roles/PhDs in the future.
- Make sure you know the application timelines for internships run by big companies, UROPs and other forms of work experience. Many are between the September and December.
- Interested in a specific area of research and wanting to get some experience with a particular research group? Try approaching them speculatively to ask. Attend a Careers Essential: Postgraduate Study session or find out more on our Further Study and Funding webpage.
- Meet employers by attending a careers fair or employer event.
- Interested in working in a smaller organisation or a start-up? Find out more on our Working in Industry page and start to find the organisations themselves from our What can I do with my degree webpage. Try making a speculative application to gain work experience.
- Attend a Careers Essential or Careers Lab to learn about the basics of applications and interviews.
- Interested in a specific area of research and wanting to get some experience with a particular research group? Try approaching them speculatively to ask.
- Once you’ve tailored an application, book an appointment with a careers consultant to confirm you’ve done it well.
- Interested in turning your idea into a business? Or working in a start-up. The Imperial Enterprise Lab can help and also provide workshops and networking opportunities. Sign up to their newsletter to stay in touch.
- Have you thought about inspiring the next generation of scientists? Volunteer or find paid roles with the Imperial Outreach team. Public engagement is a key part of an academic career and the presentation and team working skills you’ll learn look good on a CV for any future role.
- Final year is going to be busy so get a head start on it and update your Plan: Me, making sure you check application timelines and add in actions based on what you’ve learnt during your penultimate year.
Your final year is going to be busy, with assessments coming thick and fast and that final push which could involve a large project or dissertation. Big employers, funding PhDs and many of the competitive Master's programmes will begin advertising before or during the autumn term. Smaller organisations and start up may advertise roles later on your in academic year, or they may not advertise at all meaning you’ll need to network and approach them speculatively if you’re interested in working in their business.
- Update your tailored CV and application documents for each role you apply to using tips from our CV and Resumes webpage and our CV and Cover letter guide.
- Not sure what to do? Make an appointment to speak to a careers consultant.
- Practise your interview technique using the Shorlistme interview tool.
- Revisit your networking techniques both online and in person using our networking webpage.
- Browse through the previous tabs on this page to see if there are any ideas or links that you might have missed.
- Need to ask for referees for applications? Talk to your personal tutor or visit our Referees and references page to learn more.
- Trying to decide if a job/postgraduate study offer is right for you? Revisit any previous career planning tools you’ve used, like your Plan: Me, and then use our Evaluating job offers webpage for further guidance.
- Considering taking a year out after you graduate? You’ll find advise and guidance on our Taking a year out webpage.
The Careers Service remains available to you for three years after you graduate, allowing you time to explore and experiment with what could be your first steps into a career. Here is how to make the most of that.
- If you have left Imperial, register as an Alumni for full access to JobsLive to find careers appointments, events, seminars and job vacancies.
- If you have remained at Imperial to do postgraduate study, visit the careers journey for Master's or the careers journey for PhD pages to continue your career development. If you’re doing postgraduate study at a different university be sure to ask what extra support they have for you there.
- Join the Imperial Alumni association to stay in touch with Imperial and take advantage of the many benefits they offer.
- 15 months after you graduate you will be asked to complete a national survey about what you have gone on to do after your degree. Keep your details up to date.