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Career Focus: 5 ways to improve your employability while studying abroad

It’s no secret that the world is becoming a much smaller place, and technology is playing a far greater role in the global workplace than ever before.

This means that competition for jobs, and especially graduate jobs, is increasing all the time. It also means that you should start thinking about how to improve your employability sooner rather than later!

It can be scary to think about your future career, but if you start to improve your employability while studying abroad, you can set yourself apart from other candidates when you graduate.

At Kaplan, we understand the importance of preparing students for work.

This is why our UK pathway courses have a strong focus on employability skills, alongside academic studies. We want you to succeed and feel confident about the value you could add to whichever field you decide to enter.

Here are 5 ways to improve your employability while studying abroad.

1. Join a professional network

When you study your pathway course with Kaplan, you will be supported in joining a range of relevant professional bodies and network organisations. This will help you see how the knowledge you gain on your pathway course is applicable in a real-world context.

According to Yumna, a former student at Nottingham Trent International College:

“I think international students don’t always expect much outside of academic resources, but I always tell other students about networking, and you will see that there is a lot you can do.”

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In addition, you’ll feel part of a professional group and have many opportunities to develop your employability skills, access resources, attend professional events and webinars, and receive useful career information.

What’s more, you can even receive professional recognition from the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs if you successfully complete a module in entrepreneurship.

Some examples of the professional networks that Kaplan students have engaged with include:

  • Association for Project Management
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Royal Statistical Society
  • Law Society of Scotland

It’s important that the professional networks we engage with reflect our students’ priorities and interests, which is why we ask for their input as we expand the range of societies and associations we build relationships with.

By joining these professional bodies, you will begin to build a global network, which can lead to exciting opportunities for your future career.

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2. Build a portfolio of your skills and attributes

Another great way to improve your employability while studying abroad is to build a portfolio that you can share with future employers. It’s an effective way to reflect on your achievements, as well as areas you’re still working on, and clearly describe your experiences and skills.

During your pathway course, you will create and complete your online KapPACK e-portfolio. This is divided into 5 sections:

  • About Me — describe your education and include details about any extracurricular activities, awards and certificates.
  • Personal Development — share examples of how you have overcome difficulties, and improved your skills, such as time management and organisation.
  • Academic Exploration — show how you have developed academic skills through research and critical thinking, and what you have discovered about your chosen university and degree.
  • Communicative Ability — demonstrate what you have done to improve your speaking skills, for example, through intercultural activities, presentations, and participating in classes.
  • Knowledge, Skills and Experience — reflect on what you have learnt during your pathway course and how you have applied it to your studies and your life.

If you want to take your e-portfolio to the next level, you can apply a Plus Award, which has 2 categories to choose from: Leadership and Community.

You simply need to add extra material to your KapPACK e-portfolio to showcase how you have contributed as a leader, or to your community. Earning the KapPACK Plus Award is a fantastic way to stand out from the crowd and show that you can go the extra mile.

3. Gain work experience

An excellent way to improve your employability is to gain work experience. Employers value candidates who have shown that they can apply theoretical knowledge to real-world contexts.

Kaplan Pathways is registered with the Office for Students, which means that if you study at a Kaplan college in England, you have the option of finding a part-time job while you study your pathway course.

Even if the job isn’t related to what you’re studying, you can still gain valuable skills that you can take with you into the future. For example, working in a restaurant might teach you how to communicate effectively to provide great customer service, or it could help you develop team-working skills.

In addition, at your Kaplan college, you’ll have the opportunity to become a Student Representative or Student Ambassador. These are roles which involve helping with events and representing your classmates to ensure their voices are heard: a great way to get to know different people, and incredibly rewarding too.

Overall, finding work experience can boost your CV and future career prospects. It can put you in a good position when it comes to finding work placement opportunities at university — indeed, many of our partner universities offer a work placement year as part of their degrees.

Finally, with the Graduate Route post-study work visa available for international graduates in the UK, you can look forward to becoming a well-rounded, employable graduate.

4. Take advantage of Life and Career Skills

Participating in Life and Career Skills activities is an excellent way to improve your career prospects. At Kaplan colleges, these take place throughout the year which means that you will several opportunities to take part.

For Life and Career Skills work, you will be asked to form groups and work on a project, then come together to share what you have learnt.

Engaging with Life and Career Skills can really help you develop transferable skills such as teamwork, research, and organisation. It can also introduce you to new technologies and push you outside your comfort zone.

This is vital for enhancing your personal development, which will ultimately help you become more employable.

5. Learn transferable skills

Similarly, the importance of gaining transferable skills cannot be understated. You may end up changing industries throughout your career but the ability to transfer your skills from one context to another is extremely valuable to employers.

Whether it’s through your KapPACK e-portfolio or relevant networking opportunities, there are many ways to build transferable skills on your pathway course.

For example, you can take advantage of Pathways Preview, a special area of our virtual learning environment, just for students who are about to join a programme. It is designed to help you settle in before you start your classes, and it offers you the chance to learn how to organise your time and about the importance of enhancing your network and employability skills.

Additionally, if you successfully complete your pathway course, you can benefit from Pathways Extra. This will give you continued access to all of your learning materials and online help to maintain and improve your English language skills.

You’ll also be able to keep updating your KapPACK e-portfolio, and access your professional memberships.

Finally, you can take advantage of new materials, which focus on skills development to support your transition to university and the world of work.

Shape your career with Kaplan

To sum up, you have the power to shape your career prospects when you study your pathway course at Kaplan.

You’ll have many opportunities to learn, develop and see the bigger picture, so that you can focus on your future career and take the necessary steps to get where you want to go — all before you’ve even started university!

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