If graduation is looming, you’re probably feeling tentatively excited about the future, but possibly mildly panicked, if like most people, you haven’t yet got a job lined up or you’re unsure where on earth to begin. Here’s five tips from HelloGrads to help you prepare for ‘real life’. (And even if graduation is years away, it’s never too early to start!)
Whether you know what you want to do, or you haven’t a clue, there’s no need to stress about finding the perfect first job. Our career paths are long, with plenty of twists and turns. Your first job won’t be your last. If it turns out not to be your thing, that’s OK. No experience is wasted – at the very least, you’ll learn what you don’t want to do, you’ll gain some transferrable skills, meet some interesting (and potentially useful!) people, and it may even open doors to better opportunities.
So, focus on what you might like to do for a couple of years after uni, in a field where you have a genuine interest…and just give it a go!
We spend far too long at work to not enjoy it. And if you love what you do, you’re far more likely to be successful at it. Don’t be seduced into a job just because it sounds impressive, or fits what you think you ought to be doing, or satisfies family expectations. Find something you are passionate about; keep trying until you land it.
Get some industry-specific experience, internships or work-shadowing days, to get a taste of working life and check whether you’re suited to the areas you’re interested in. It’s a great chance to try things, without pressure or long-term commitment. Not only will it pep up your CV, it will help you define your direction. And you don’t have to work for free - more than 80% of the UK’s top graduate employers offer paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates.
Find out here how to avoid the pitfalls and get the best out of work experience.
You have access to a huge array of resources to help you prep for graduation, make your portfolio pop and your CV sing. Take advantage of them: borrow a decent camera and get someone to take a good professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile, use a studio to smash your final projects, transform your Instagram into an impactful portfolio (for free!), learn to build a website, print and bind your best essay to take to interviews.
You have a wealth of information and useful contacts on your doorstep. Lecturers and uni staff could be very helpful to you in the future. In addition to teaching, many will have worked in your industry or will be undertaking research projects. Connect with them on LinkedIn, go and chat to them about the direction you might want to take, or ask them for ideas! This is an important step to building your network, starting with people who know you.
Use the library and careers service to research industries and organisations that interest you. Get in touch with local businesses and ask if you can visit to learn more about them.
Even while you’re still a student, think of yourself as a budding professional – there is plenty you can do now to prepare for graduation and ease yourself into working life. Just give it a go!
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