I have been given plenty of opportunities since starting my course back in April 2013. But how has this happened? How I have ‘blagged’ invites and how have I managed to get this SNT Editor role?
These days it’s not enough just to show up and do the nursing degree. You have to have something extra to offer employers. It’s a tough job market out there at the best of times, so you have to make the best impression and stand out from the crowd.
There are plenty of opportunities out there, but you have to look for them and seek them out. Be curious. Be passionate. If you’re passionate, it will show.
When I first went to university (over 10 years ago now!) I was naïve and learnt from the experience to become independent and move away from home.
One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t always know opportunities were available, I expected everything to fall on my plate. I didn’t think for a second that I would have to put the work in.
When I finished, I found it very hard to get a job afterwards.
A good biology degree was great to have but I didn’t have anything on my CV to make me stand out from other graduates and personal circumstances meant I had to stay in my local area where there were few jobs and opportunities.
It took me a number of years to work out that networking was crucial to securing the role you want. It happened when I became a Group Fitness Instructor. I can’t tell you how many mental health nurses, healthcare professionals and other potential future employees I have met in classes I’ve taught.
It opened my eyes that I must be passionate about what I do and that seeking these opportunities would become more natural with practice.
Every communication I make has the potential to lead to something else. Never ever close off an opportunity completely. Be positive about the profession - a positive mind set is crucial.
Your university offers you plenty of opportunities to shine but it is up to you to take them. Speak with your lecturers about what you can do to improve and succeed. The best attitude is to be positive, open-minded, curious and above all show that you want to do these extra-curricular activities.
You can add these things to your CV and when it comes to interview time when you qualify, you’ll find you have plenty to talk about.
What opportunities have I taken?
Most recently, as part of my Caremakers role I was invited to the Chief Nursing Officer’s summit in Manchester, Wednesday 26th November. This was a great opportunity to network with those higher up who make the decisions in healthcare.
I cannot believe how lucky I was to get a place but I only managed this because I asked. As my Nan would say “You don’t ask, you don’t get”. Going to conferences and being involved in university events offered to you is a great way to network with future employers and boost your confidence.
I have helped co-host a Student Mental Health Nurse Conference at Birmingham City University. I have contributed to a focus group for a publishing group who are publishing a new Nursing Practice textbook. I also became a student course representative.
I know some of you will say that you lack time to do such things. But you have to make the time and take responsibility. I still have my part time fitness role, do the course, had additional personal responsibilities and I know my fellow SNT editors have similar levels of responsibility.
But they have stuck their heads above the parapet and said “Hey, look what I can offer”.
So what are you waiting for? Dive in. You have nothing to lose. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.
Becky Kidman is Student Nursing Times’ mental health branch editor