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How my course prepares me for employment
Hello, my name’s Rich and I’m a first-year Physiotherapy student here at Leeds Beckett. This blog is all about employability and how Leeds Beckett is preparing me for the working world.
Three years at uni may sound like a long time, but as someone who has previously gained a degree, I can testify that it goes unbelievably fast and the time really does fly. The idea of looking for a proper job may seem far way, but a little bit of thought in the years leading up to graduating or even before you start, goes a long way. If you’re undecided about what course you want to study, then I encourage you to look into the job prospects for that particular course as you may be surprised by what it can lead to.
High graduate employment rate
There are many popular jobs at the moment that your interests may lead to. Being a physiotherapist is actually one of them. A growing, ageing and increasingly sedentary population means there’s a lot of aching bodies across the nation in need of some help. The demand for physios has gone up, but the supply hasn’t. Of course, this bad for the nation’s health, however for those in the industry or currently studying, this means a plentiful supply of jobs and opportunities.
The statistic below has been consistent for several years. For me, this was reassuring to hear before I started, as it gave me confidence in knowing that the effort put into the course would be rewarded by learning relevant skills to get a job at the end of it.
of Bsc (Hons) Physiotherapy graduates are in work of further study 15 months after graduating.
Learning skills valuable to the industry
A mixture of assessment methods whilst on the course means that I have the chance to practice several key skills before ever meeting a patient. I been able to practice skills such as giving presentations, providing one to one patient assessments, and also writing assignments and reports in an academic/professional tone.
Having the knowledge and skills learnt on my course means when I have the opportunity to do something away from the course, such as giving a presentation at a conference or in the workplace after graduation, I will have some direct relevant experience to apply to the task and will feel more confident doing so.
The Physio course at Leeds Beckett is professionally accredited by The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Accredited courses mean that I can be sure that I’m being taught to the highest standards and this will be known by potential employers too. The job title physiotherapist is a legally protected one. Anyone can legally call themselves a sports therapist or perhaps a wellbeing specialist no matter what their qualifications, but to be a physiotherapist you have to hold a degree in that subject. This means that a potential employer instantly knows what minimum standard you have been trained to, and any other qualifications or specialisms are a bonus.
Another key reason for such a high employment rate at Beckett is that the course requires students to undertake a variety of placements throughout their study, in order to gain their degree and become a registered physiotherapist. These placements are foremost an opportunity for learning and gaining experience. However, one thing I’m aware of is that the placement educators are also potential employers. If I impress them with the right attitude and ability, they might strongly suggest I apply for a job at the end of my third year. In fact, it’s quite common for students to have jobs secured before graduating, transitioning quickly from student to professional once the professional status has been achieved. I’m due to begin placements when I reach my second year and I’m currently learning knowledge and skills that I can put into practice during that opportunity.
I'm really looking forward to the patient-therapist interaction during my placement and hopefully being able to treat, educate and inspire people to take the next steps towards better health.
Top tips to become more employable
No matter what course you’re studying, here are some of my top things to think about whilst at uni which alongside your degree, could make you more employable:
- Saying yes - during my first degree one of my lecturers said, “it’s the opportunities you say no to that will define you”. This is something that stuck with me and has a lot of meaning. Your time at university is one to create, explore and figure stuff out; a key part of this is making the most of opportunities that come your way, and saying a big YES to them. During my first degree I accepted a job as student researcher which led me to opportunities working in Norway, Romania and Italy. This is an example of maximising your opportunities and experiences by saying yes to as much as you can that comes your way as you never know where they might take you.
- Part Time jobs – an easy way to show an employer that you have relevant work experience is to…well, be employed. Working in a supermarket may not be the end goal, but it will show your employer that you’re organised, have people skills and can work in a team. A part-time job that somehow ties into your future career is even better, for example if you’re studying music production and wanting to go on to work for a record label, a part time job in a rehearsal studio could be ideal. During my first degree I worked in event planning at a wedding venue, which gave me heaps of experience of interacting with customers, being well organised and keeping to time; all transferable skills to being a physiotherapist. Leeds Beckett is supportive and provides students with the opportunity to sign up to a weekly email which lets us know of part time jobs in the Leeds area, across different industries.
- Volunteering – whether it’s for one off events, short term projects or something ongoing, volunteering your time can make a massive difference to others, and also can reflect positively on you in the eyes of an employer. Charities are always looking for volunteers, even if it’s only an hour a week. Prior to starting my course I was able to volunteer at my local hospital in order to get to know its inner workings and get used to that type of environment. This was great because it gave me experience of working on a ward, but I was only committed to a couple of hours a week.
- Being reflective – The last thing on this list takes all your experiences and allows you to articulate them by noting down what you have learnt from them. Even the smallest thing can be reflected on by asking, would I do it again? Would I do it differently? How has this changed me? What do I think about it? How do I feel about it? Someone who is mindful in this way is highly valuable to an employer as they are able to show that they are constantly learning and growing as an individual. On my Physio course, and going on to be a professional, I am required to do this and make sure it’s documented. This is part of what we call CPD, which stands for continual professional development.
I hope this insight into my course and top tips into employment after graduation helps you. Just remember, in terms of employability there are no right or wrongs, but hopefully by thinking about some of these things you can make steps towards that dream job!