So you’ve graduated? You’ve walked across that stage, with mortar board on head and testamur in hand ( hopefully without tripping or falling off) and you’ve taken some time out to celebrate your achievement. Congratulations! Now what? For many of you, depending on what stage of life you’re at, you may already be in employment, and your qualifications may just add to your knowledge and professional career. But if you’re graduating university with a blank slate and your future stretching out ahead of you, it’s important to have a plan for ensuring you get the best from your education and your future. Here are some positive things you can do to make sure you make the most out of your future opportunities.
- Get some career advice. Make an appointment with a career counsellor. They can help provide guidance and set you on the right path. If you are clear about your future career paths, try and connect with people already in your chosen field or industry. Join professional organisations that represent your chosen field and attend networking events.
- Brush up on your CV.. Make sure your CV is up to date, looks professional, and is a clear and accurate representation of you and your skills and experience. If need be, get help from a professional resume writer or a trusted knowledgeable friend.
- Manage your online brand. Review your online footprint. Most employers will look at more than your resume when assessing your suitability for a role, so Google yourself, make sure there are no nasty surprises, get your Linked In profile up to date and complete and review other social media platforms to make sure they present you in the best possible light.
- Manage expectations. Don’t expect to get that dream job earning 6 figures, or flexible, work-from-home telecommute within weeks of graduating. Anticipate that compromises will be inevitable and realise that while your first job after graduation may not be your dream job, but it may well be a step on the right path towards it.
- Adopt a strategic approach to job search. It can be tempting to just apply for any job, any where and send off as many resumes as you can, but it’s important to focus on roles that will offer value to you and to you which you may also offer value to a potential employer. Otherwise, you’re just short changing both of you.
- Take a part time job. If your first full time “ proper” job takes time to come along, don’t be afraid to take on part time or casual work. It will help fill in gaps on your resume, provide income and who knows, might lead to something more permanent and valuable.
- Avoid self-comparison. Avoid comparing yourself with friends or fellow graduands who are fortunate to land a great job almost instantly. Your journey is different to theirs, and all of it is worthwhile.
- Prepare for rejection and knock backs. You won’t be offered every job you apply for. That is part of the process. Whatever you do, don’t take it personally. Not being offered that job you were really hoping for is not a reflection on you, but just a reflection of the fit between your skills and abilities and what the job requires. There will be other opportunities.
- Make the post of your personal connections. Do tap into your personal connections in seeking opportunities. The oft used term “ it’s not what you know , but who you know” is partially accurate at least. While certainly what you know is important, your personal connections can prove to be valuable in hunting out opportunities that might not be available through the regular channels.
- Be wary of work experience and/or unpaid internships. While internships and work experience can provide opportunities, be wary of signing up to internships disguised as unpaid or “slave” labour. Make sure you investigate internships thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask about what pay ( if any) is offered or what is the likelihood of opportunities to move into proper full time work.
- Explore further study options. Don’t rule out completing postgraduate study to give yourself an edge or to further hone your skills in a chosen field.
All the best!