Developing Your Career Within the University as an Adult Returner

Many thanks to Claire Allison, fourth year Psychology and Linguistics student, for her reflections on her university experience as an adult returner. Claire also provides tips on how to make the most of developing your career at university:

“But what about your career?” I was asked this question many times when I told people that I was starting university, after completing The University of Edinburgh Access Course and I was in my late 20’s. It was complimentary in a way; people noticed my drive and passion for the career I had spent years building.

Maintaining a career and keeping on top of its development will look different for everyone, as there are infinite factors to consider. For many adult returners, starting university means cutting down to part-time working hours. However, this doesn’t mean that your role is considered minimal or stationary.

My tips for career enhancing opportunities whilst at university

  • Join societies and sports clubs – while some societies are just for fun, others are either academic related or aimed towards campaigning and raising awareness of issues. Societies are a great way to find connections and learn more about the field you wish to enter. This shows potential employers that you choose to spend your free time at University with like-minded people and that you are actively engaged with your new professional community.
  • Think about part-time and vacation work.
    • For me, I work part-time during term time and full-time over the holidays. I search ahead for work related courses to continue my career development and make this a priority because, to me, these things are just as important as my university work. I also actively look for opportunities that combine university life with career development to get the best of both worlds.
    • Use LinkedIn Learning – current University of Edinburgh students have free access to an extensive library of courses to complete flexibly in your own time: this includes a playlist dedicated to employability skills!
  • Undertake an internship – this can demonstrate to employers that you have some experience to back up your studies and that you are invested in your field. Internships are a great entry point into a new field of work, and many offer the opportunity to contribute to a project or a particular area of work. You will also be able to tell employers about the practical skills you gained and use these as examples in your applications and interviews.
    • When I put forward the idea for this blog, I was actually coming to the end of my varied Employ.ed on Campus internship at the Careers Service as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) intern. I gained so many skills from this internship such as verbal communication through my input on Careers Service EDI initiatives, written communication through writing content for guest blog posts and researching EDI resources to promote on social media.
    • On top of this, the internship included workshops aimed at career development, which I found invaluable.
    • Applications for 2023 Employ.ed on Campus internships go live in February 2023 so watch this space!

Thanks Claire.

Claire highlighted the importance of engaging with the University community. Did you know another way to make connections is through Platform One, the University’s online community? You can find friendly people on Platform One who share a connection with the University and are open to supporting each other. These include alumni, staff and students who are happy to answer your questions and share their experiences with you. Joining Platform One is straightforward – you can sign up to create a profile using this link.

There are also a range of ways the Careers Service can support you:

  • Our information and advice drop-ins are offered online and on campus. No need to book! They’re great for asking quick questions and getting answers. Check this schedule to find a session that suits you: Information and advice drop-ins
  • You can book an appointment with any of our Careers Consultants via the “Talk to us” tab in MyCareerHub.

(Image credit: kalhh from Pixabay)


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