You've Graduated... What Now?!
Every year 1000’s of grads send out a blanket of applications to 100’s of grad schemes in a desperate bid to snap up one of the (supposedly) dwindling job opportunities. Candidates are likely to accept whatever the first offer is that comes their way. No wonder the average time a graduate spends in their first job is only 6–8 months!
Continuous applications to companies that you are not interested in, for jobs that you don’t understand the requirements of, are a waste of your time and the employer's time. The benefits of finding the right career path for you are more apparent than ever! So, let’s get started shall we?!
Three magic questions:
1. What do you like?
Assess your likes and dislikes of all your education, employment and extracurricular activities. OK, so this may sound like a mammoth and somewhat dull task but it's incredibly beneficial. Look at particular modules you studied during your A-Levels and your degree. Which modules did you like/dislike and why was that? Look at the aspects of your extracurricular activities you like. Do you enjoy competition, working in a team or helping other people? In your previous jobs, what have you enjoyed? Do you prefer to do lots of different things in a day or working on a project for several months?
Spend 20 minutes or so, write everything down so you can refer back to it.
2. What skills/qualities do you have?
Take another 20 minutes or so to brainstorm for this bad boy. List all the skills and qualities you have. Are you organised? Adaptable? Patient? Persuasive? Do you have cracking leadership skills? Amazing communication skills? An analytical approach to work?
Get a (preferably brutally honest) friend or relative to do the same, based on your skills. Asking for input from the people who know you best provides you with a bit of perspective. Plus, you’ll find that other people will list skills that you haven’t even thought of - instant confidence boost!
3. What do you want out of a career?
It’s essential to consider what it is that you want from a job. Some people are fine with just getting a big pay cheque at the end of the month. Some people need their job to be exciting.
Are you looking for money, prestige, job security, emotional satisfaction or a challenge? Do you want your career to be a big part of your life? Are you happy to spend time working at the weekends or evenings, or is your free time sacred? Do you want a job which is constantly changing or to be settled in one place and be able to work your way up the ladder in your chosen career?
Sit down and make a list of things that are important to you. This will enable you to rule out career paths that you might be less well suited to.
Do your homework
Done all that? Good work! Next it’s time to do your homework and brush up on your knowledge of different career paths. Now that you know what you enjoy, what skills you have and what you want from a career, you can match these things to jobs or companies that will offer suit these attributes. Find out about career options by:
Scouring the internet for insights into different industries
Attending careers fairs and speak to those who work for companies you like the look of.
Talking to your Careers Services - your university will usually allow to use its services for a year or so after you have graduated. (Nice of them eh!)
Using your contacts. Do you know of anyone- maybe a relative or family friend – working in an industry you’re interested in? Ask them for the low down.
Try before you buy
Obviously, you can never fully understand an industry or a particular role until you have seen it first hand. This is where a little bit of work experience becomes incredibly helpful. Finding work experience can be tricky - take a look at our article on how to get work experience here. Shadowing someone can also give you a fantastic insight into life in a particular industry.
Choosing a career can feel like an incredibly daunting task. Do take comfort in the fact that many people take convoluted routes towards what they want to do. On top of this, the idea of a ‘job for life’ is fast becoming a thing of the past- many people have two or three careers during their working life. Yes, it’s important to find a career that you love, but there is no rush and nothing is set in stone.
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