Many of you reading this are probably at the peak of their university life enjoying the odd afternoons off or the late nights without having to worry about waking up at 7am the next day. The perks of university life are one that perhaps one will never experience again, yes it was tough and at times stressful but fast forward to the future and I assure you, you will miss your university days. The times you hibernated in the library struggling to understand the concept at hand or those times you almost (and some did) fell asleep at the complexity of the lecture. I would wonder whether it was even worth attending those lectures but I am of the belief and statistics have shown that the higher the attendance of lectures the increase in probability of a good grade.
Anyhow I thought I would paint a picture of life after uni after the hustle and bustle of the yearly fresher’s fair and the tensions that would rise in those Absoc meetings. I think many of us simply become embroiled within the “university bubble” and as such find it difficult to adjust to working life. At times I almost felt unwanted by my university and in a sense chucked out into the big wide world without a clue as to how to find the right job for me.
All is not lost and with the right mentality and advice the impact of change should be minimised and I warn you the change will come and it’s better to start thinking about it now rather than later. Many times I have been asked whether or not a placement year is beneficial and every single time I reply 100% yes. You see when you enter the practical day to day life of the 9 to 5 you begin to realise that everything you learned in university is almost certain not relevant to the job role that you undertake. I remember my first day at Greater London Authority (Mayor of London) I literally sat for 15 minutes on my desk feeling confused and overwhelmed, simply because I had never worked in a corporate environment and had found myself realising the clear divide because the academic and professional world.
So if you are in a position where you are deciding to take a year out or not then very simply I would tell you to get a move on and get applying, in most cases you will find that your university has a dedicated department to assist you in ensuring that your applications are of the best quality. If you are successful then you will certainly have a heads up above those who have no experience and if you are lucky then the company you are with may provide you with professional training courses which only seek to propel you further up the ranks. When I was at GLA I was lucky enough to attend 3 training courses, PRINCE 2, ITIL and VMware (Google if you want to find out how they can help). The professional courses will greatly increase the probability of your CV being accepted and being called up for an interview I will perhaps blog more about this in the future.
Even if you have not done a placement year then now you need to focus on how best to sell yourself for you have to remember there are thousands upon thousands of others just like you and if you don’t believe me then attend a careers fair and you will feel just how competitive the market it. In times where unemployment is at a 17 year high you really need to pull your socks up. I graduated with a 1st and with a years experience and with 2 professional qualifications yet still found it extremely difficult finding that break through into the sector. It took much determination and 5 revisions of my CV in order to finally get in. Don’t let this dishearten you but take it as a means of motivating you further.
When you graduate there are 3 roads you can take
A) Continue to a masters or PhD
B) Graduate/Intern Position
C) Professional Entry level job
There is no easy option but perhaps the most straight forward would be A where you would delve deeper into your academic field perhaps in a role of research. B would entail that you have been applying to graduate positions at big enterprise companies and have successfully completed the application process. If this is the case then well done and know that you will be moulded with the right training and guidance to progress in your career.
Does this mean that option C is the least desirable? Of course not and what is the difference between B and C? Well a graduate position is one where the company expects the individual to have little to no professional experience and thus provide (usually) a 2 year scheme where the candidate is rotated from department to department and exposed to various functional levels of the company. By the end of the scheme the candidate may decide which department best fits. A professional entry level job is perhaps those that do not require long winded applications and aptitude tests but rather is passed on the traditional covering letter and cv. These are usually small to medium sized companies that are looking for individuals like you. When tailoring your CV you would need to make your work experience the focal point highlighting the qualities that you can bring to the company.
There are many topics to cover with regards to life after university and it’s perhaps best to do so in individual blogs, I will however list these here in order to get you thinking
- The benefits of taking a gap year
- The qualities of preparing the best CV to make you shine
- What is a covering letter and how to write one
- Practical examples of applying for work
- The Role of University in relation to your job hunting
- What are professional courses and why do they help?
I hope I have got you thinking…