I finally graduated. Within the next two months I was presented with what looked like an incredible job opportunity at an assessment centre in the Marriott hotel. Four weeks later, once I had landed the job, I was swished off for two days of training with overnight stays at the Premier Inn.
My incredible opportunity however, turned out to be a fifty hour minimum work week, filled with tight time frames, and mounting work sprinkled with only twenty minute lunch breaks. In saying this, my experience at this nameless company was much needed. I had gained the training required to toughen me up for the working world and now knew what I wanted in my next job.
Now, I recently stumbled across a careers and employment website called The Ladders. They were looking for career professionals to give advice to college graduates entering the workforce. Since I’d spent four years supporting graduates into the IT industry in addition to having had my own share of ‘if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger’ work related experiences, I was eager to share the things that I wish I’d known about my career as a fresh graduate:
1. Getting your first job is like dating
When you start attending job interviews, you are actually going on a series of first dates. Both the employer and yourself are showing only the best portion of what each side has on offer and just like with dating, you ignore the existence of their dark side. The person you will report to may have a host of anger management issues, be emotionally insecure or have a contagious skin disease.
So take some time to analyse what exactly is on offer and who you will be working with. Look at the company underneath the eyeliner and ask why. Why would a law firm supply you with breakfast, lunch and dinner as an all inclusive benefit if they didn’t expect you to remain the office for 95% of your waking hours. Be attentive to what you notice about your future employer and the role you have applied for and from that place, make your decision.
2. You will still need more experience
As if three or four years worth of a graduate education wasn’t enough, many employers will still favor experience over qualifications. In some instances, this can easily be overcome. You can choose a role catered for graduates who have no work related experience, but have attained an exemplary grade or you could choose to hustle while you study. For example, a graduate who wants to go into web design, for instance, could do any of the following:
1. Get a website and showcase your range of website designs
2. Start a YouTube series where you build a community and talk about something unique like the similarities between web design and food
3. Get paid by freelancing on websites on Fiverr, Elance or Odesk.
While you are still in the interviewing process ensure that you gain as much experience as you can and brag about it! There are so many options providing you are willing to put in the work. Doing this in your spare time will add leverage to your job applications immensely and will demonstrate persistence and pro-activity.
3. You should combine your passion with an actual career
I recently met someone who aspires to write novels for a living. Now, although writing novels is her dream, it doesn’t mean that she will automatically become a New York Times bestseller. Making a living from writing novels is as common as a solar eclipse. So first, the idea is to think about particular writing positions which can command a higher salary like copywriting, content writing or script writing and write novels as a hobby until it generates an income. Alternatively, she can write romance stories for the local lifestyle magazine full time and eat bread and butter for dinner every night.
The point is you have to choose your standard of living in advance. And I don’t mean when your twenty five and living with your parents, I’m talking about calculating how much it would be to support a family and pay for your accommodation with just your annual income. Do that and work backwards so that your passion is incorporated along with your professional progression.
4. Become a brand
Jobs as we know them are slowly becoming like Blackberry handsets – soon to be forgotten about. Companies are leaning towards zero hours contracts and are favoring outsourcing staff overseas in order to reduce overheads. As millennials we need to remember that no job is certain and that we must become a brand to remain forever employable.
The idea of personal branding is thrown around flippantly but essentially it is the image you portray both on and off line. You can then use this image to gain credibility and influence in a given industry. You can start a website showcasing your talent, produce daily or weekly content through a blog or Vlog or start a research paper. These ideas can work for whatever industry and position you are in, it just takes hard work and a little creativity.
It would be great if you could share your experiences, whether you are about to graduate or have graduated already and want to share what you wish you had known back then. Feel free to join in the discussion on Facebook or leave your comment below.