For many students (myself included), fitting in career-planning alongside the endless essays and exams can be extremely difficult. This may be why I graduated in July with a psychology degree, but lacking any idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Sound familiar? Well, if you’re feeling disheartened and lost, why don’t I share with you a few tips that have helped me since being plucked from the comfort of student life? Although I still haven’t landed my dream job, I have largely narrowed down my choices and started creating opportunities for myself. Additionally, I am in a much better and more positive headspace than I was before thanks to advice from friends, family and various career websites and blogs. Here’s a little taster of what I’ve learned so far.
Now that the lectures, seminars and deadlines are a thing of the past, your free-time will have inevitably expanded. This may seem daunting to the boredom-fearers, but all that’s needed here is a little change of perspective. Try looking at your spare time as time to get to know yourself. Find out what you like and dislike doing, acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, and even write them down if it helps. These things will aid you when it comes to reading job descriptions and person specifications, as they will tell you how well suited you are to a job and how much you will enjoy it.
Experience, experience, experience
Any work experience is beneficial, no matter what it is. I am currently working at my local supermarket. Is it what I want to do as a career? No. But I am constantly using skills that make me employable, such as my interaction with customers, and my ability to organise my time effectively. These are things that employers want to see. Look at any potential work, paid or unpaid, as a chance to exercise your skills and for anecdote material at your next interview. Also, relating back to the last paragraph, use work experience as a way of ruling out things that you don’t particularly like in a job, such as an office environment, and putting a big tick next to things that you do like about it, such as working in a team. These things will help you to better anticipate your enjoyment of potential jobs, saving you time and energy when trawling through job details.
Keep in the know
I’m sure you’re aware of the various websites that advertise jobs. Something that I have found useful is setting up email alerts from as many of them as possible relating to jobs in my area. It does, unfortunately, mean that I wake up most days to 20 or so emails, but at least I don’t miss out on anything that might float my boat.
Don’t rush yourself
It can be so easy to get in to the mind set of wanting a job RIGHT NOW, especially with various stories of ‘so-and-so bagging this graduate scheme’ and ‘what’s-her-name being on an amazing salary’. Just remember, this is your journey. Try not to get too bogged down with what other people are doing, and focus on your path. If you find yourself getting frustrated with the job-hunting process, take a step back and remember how far you’ve come. You’ve been working hard in education for what seems like forever, so cut yourself a bit of slack. You have a lot to offer in the world, it just may take a little while for an employer to snap you up. But you’ll get there.
In the meantime, stay positive and keep your eyes, ears and web browser open for any potential opportunities. Good luck, we can do this!