This one’s about graduates again
The majority of University related or Graduate guides – no offence to the writers – are largely composed of unhelpful, carbon-copy waffle that sends readers back to student oriented forums. This thorny climate is such that normal student planning and ambition has proven insufficient in the marketplace. It is in light of this frail helping hand that I present a bunch of practical advice based on my own often tumultuous experiences as a 14 odd month old Graduate.
1. Experience, Experience, Experience
Ask any graduate of the last three years, be it successful or unsuccessful, and they will tell you that no one will hire you unless you have relevant experience of three months or more in the required field. The more experience you garner the better and if you are reading this now and are in Uni or have graduated and are unemployed, start hunting for experience now. Applying for jobs without experience is a waste of your time and energy. Think of Graduate life as that of an artist, build your portfolio so that it has a streak that shocks employers.
This ties in with everything that you do from A level (Post-16) onwards. The current rat race is more competitive than ever before and the reality is that unless you have been an A grade student all your life a career in the most competitive corporate career paths is almost impossibly tough to break into. If you have a passion, anything at all, channel it into your chosen career path. What many fail to consider when embarking on further education or the working world is that their skills and experiences are unique. In our society departments and workplaces cater for almost every passion project. In short, go against the grain as much as possible so that you minimise your competition.
3. The Art of Jobhunting
The majority of us are not taught in great detail how to job hunt for professional, Graduate level jobs. A great deal of Universities have failed to really provide students with the tools and the vital insider knowledge to look in the right places. Chances are, if you are a student with a slender portfolio of experience you are going to get lost in the tails and whiskers of other budding prospects on job aggregating sites such as Reed.co.uk, Milkround.com and CVLibrary. Whether you are a graduate or not, contact your University department or anyone who might have insider knowledge of the industry and find out the proper channels for job application in the field.
An Example – It took six months before I was informed by a friend that the majority of legal jobs are handled by agencies! Six months of beating ones head against a Firewall.
4. Course of Action
It goes without saying that now, if you jump from one stage to another or even study without planning when and how, you are not likely to succeed. One of the key things is ensuring that you are aware of the ‘calendar’ in the profession. There will be precise times in which big companies (and often even smaller companies) will opt to provide Internships, Vac Schemes and the like. This is also important in that if you miss one window you are already a ‘step behind’ in the rat race. Even if you wish to pursue a niche you will still find competitors; it is also worth keeping your options as open as possible from early on.
Oddly, financial stability and security during and immediately after University often take a back seat. Granted, recent changes wrought by the Coalition have shifted things slightly but there is something to be said about the use of young people as debt vessels* (the irony of austerity to free future generations while labouring the current young will be discussed another time). The thing is, there is no reason to have to deal with the threat of a debt over one’s head at university.
A strong argument dissuading students from University education is that they might be better off working immediately after post-16 education. In the long term studies have suggested otherwise but students, now more than ever, suffer an initial post-graduate shock with looming overdraft and credit card fees. A part time or weekend job coupled with slightly more shrewd spending (let’s face it, Uni’s pretty damn cheap even after buying a 300 pound speaker system) can help mitigate the fish out of water feeling many experience after graduating.
6. Passion and perseverance
I’ll keep this short, do what you truly want to do and you will opt to do better whether this is inside or outside of a University.