Formulating your post-uni plan and looking for jobs in final year can be tough.
So, we spoke to five graduates who've been through it all already and landed grad jobs. In a video shared by GradTouch, the graduates reflect on what they would go back and tell their final year selves now if they could.
Here's what they had to say, and what you can learn from it:
Academics aren’t everything.
When your course gets more intense come final year, priority number one is keeping on top of the workload. Several of the grads we spoke to, however, stressed the importance of the things you do outside of your lectures.
“Don’t spend all your time in the books,” Manjeet, a Junior Consultant at Alfa, told us. She said university is a great opportunity to “build up a better person” with extracurricular activities and to “go and get more life experiences – go be in situations where you’re not so comfortable”.
Luke, a Senior National Account Manager at All About Food, agreed. “Final year’s really important, but… outside of uni stuff is also equally important.”
He continued, “Make sure you’ve got that equal balance between your academics, but also what you’re doing outside of uni to make you look attractive and not just somebody that’s academic.”
Employers will definitely be impressed by top marks at uni, they demonstrate you can keep to deadlines, communicate effectively and were committed to working hard at your course. But employers also want to hire dynamic graduates who have strong people skills and can speak to clients. They're looking for graduates who have passions and interests beyond what they were required to do on their course.
So, make the most of uni: sign up for volunteering opportunities, put yourself forward to run a society, start a blog – whatever you’re interested in. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. It’ll make you a much more well-rounded candidate and give you loads to talk about at interview.
Be aware of what’s out there – beyond the big grad schemes at major corporations.
When you come to apply for grad jobs and grad schemes, look beyond your university careers fair.
Katie is a Finance Executive at All About Food and is really glad she looked beyond the big firms when applying for graduate roles. She would tell current students to “try and find different jobs and different roles that you don’t yet know are out there.”
There are a lot of benefits to working at a start-up or SME – you’re likely to be given more responsibility and be involved in lots of different aspects of the business. The office atmosphere may also be very different to that in a more corporate environment, so take the time to think about what’s right for you.
Katie said, “Working in a small company now… the opportunities are just so different to large corporations.”
Don’t limit your search unnecessarily, you could end up missing out on amazing opportunities at smaller companies.
Remember: the job search isn’t a race.
When you’re inundated with Facebook posts about your friends landing their dream jobs it can feel like you’re falling behind or that you need to have ‘made it’ straight out of uni.
Elizabeth, an HR graduate at BT felt this way, but would tell her final year self to “relax a little bit”. After uni, Elizabeth took some time out and landed her grad scheme at BT later on. She said when she started she was “a little bit older” than other grads there, but is “treated just the same as everyone else”.
If you’re not 100% sure what you want to do, don’t be afraid to spend time trying different things, rather than rushing into a grad scheme because you think it’s ‘the right thing to do’. As Elizabeth said, “If you want to go off and get the experience and kind of figure out what it is you want to do – take that time, that’s really important.”
Relax. You’ll get there in the end.
Job hunting, especially if you’ve experienced some knockbacks along the way, can be really demoralising.
Paul, a Marketing Graduate on the Broadband Team at BT, experienced this himself. He told GradTouch he put a lot of pressure on himself to land a job and that if he could give any advice to his final year self, it would be in the form of reassurance.
“I would tell myself to just keep working, because there will be something out there and even if I didn’t get BT I would’ve found a job eventually, I’m sure of it.”
You have loads of skills and experience that you’ve accumulated as a student, whether you’re aware of it or not. All the hard work you put in will pay off in the long run, so have some faith in yourself.
As Paul said, “It maybe would’ve been nice to tell myself: ‘it’ll be ok, you know, you’ll get there whichever way you go about it.’”
You can watch the full video and hear what Luke, Manjeet, Katie, Elizabeth and Paul had to say here.