While studying at higher education it's important to be proactive and think about your next steps once you've graduated. It's recommended that you make the most of experience outside of the classroom you can by taking part in extracurricular activities and using the resources from the Careers and Placements team.


When studying for your degree you'll have more free time than you’re currently used to. This could be during the week, weekends or the longer holiday breaks you typically get at higher education.

This is a great opportunity to speak to the careers team to look for work experience and placements, or you could visit the Students’ Union to take part in extracurricular activities like societies, sports or volunteering. You'll gain lots of transferable skills that can be applied to a wide range of different jobs. Employers will see what activities you've taken in alongside your degree, what skills you gained and how you can use these skills to benefit their company.

Higher education providers will have a dedicated careers team offering a variety of services to support you and your employability. At the University of York, the careers team offers job postings, careers advice and skills development. 

York Strengths

Alongside general careers support, universities may offer employability programmes to help you make the most of your time at university. At the University of York, the careers team runs an employability programme called York Strengths.

York Strengths helps students explore and identify their most positive employability characteristics so that you gain a more confident understanding what you can offer to employers. This programme has identified nine unique strengths to help you get ahead.

Discover York Strengths

Skills and attributes

What's a skill?

A skill can be defined as an ability that's learned and refined through experience and practice. While studying or taking part in extracurricular activities you'll be learning and improving on new skills such as communication, leadership, problem-solving, self-management, teamwork and interpersonal skills.

What's an attribute? 

An attribute can be defined as a quality or characteristic you possess. Unlike skills, attributes typically cannot be learned and are unique to the individual. Examples of attributes include being ambitious, curious, hardworking, reliable, trustworthy or understanding. 

How do I know what skills and attributes I have?

It can often be challenging to recognise what skills and attributes you have and it might feel unnatural to speak about what you're good at. To recognise your skills and attributes it's useful to reflect on your current studies, extracurricular activities and experiences.

When looking back on your experiences to highlight your skills and attributes, think about the context you were in, your role, typical duties and the skills you have gained. Did a particular event happen during these activities? What happened, what did you do, what did you learn and what did you take away from it? Writing it down and reflecting is a good way to draw out your skills and attributes. 

We recommend that you keep an ongoing diary after everything you do that includes notes all about your work experiences and extracurricular activities. This is useful to do when applying for jobs or preparing for interviews as you'll have all your great experience in one place. 

Activity: road to success

In this activity you'll be presented with different job profiles and your task is to pick out what qualifications, skills and extracurricular activities you would need to be successful in that career.

You'll have the opportunity to think about and map your own road to success afterwards, get you thinking about your next steps and the relevant qualifications, skills and experiences you may need to place you on your road to success.

Take the activity

Contact us

Leave a message in the Community Chat. If you'd rather email, the team are available Monday to Friday and will respond as quickly as possible.


Hi, I'm Abi and I have just finished studying Molecular Cell Biology at the University of York. In the final year of my degree I did my dissertation on ‘Graduate recruitment assessment: analysing skills, strengths and recruitment processes’.

Abi, Final Year student. Read more about Abi's dissertation.


Alumni is the term used for a former student of a university. After graduation, you will become an alumni of your university. Even after you've left the university you're still considered a member of the university community.

At the University of York, we use the term ‘York for Life’ to show that although they've graduated our students are very much part of our community as they go onto further study or employment.

We have a York Global Alumni Association, where graduates fcan join a friendly and inspiring community of over 130,000 York alumni across more than 180 countries. This is an opportunity to connect with other alumni, stay up to date with news and gain access to support such as career advice.

York Profiles

York Profiles was developed by our alumni office and is a great resource to browse York alumni profiles and discover the career choices of alumni from different academic departments.

Go to York Profiles

Contact us

Leave a message in the Community Chat. If you'd rather email, the team are available Monday to Friday and will respond as quickly as possible.