March 27, 2012

So I’ve Graduated…..What next?

After years of hard work and dedication you’ve finally done it. The lectures are over. The results are in. The stage is set. All you have to do now is pick up your cap and gown, shake hands with the principal and accept your degree certificate – your ticket to an illustrious career and the prize that you’ve studied so hard to achieve. But when the ceremony is over and graduation is done, is it really that simple to just walk into your desired choice of employment? Many graduates assume that the stroll into their dream job will be as easy as their stroll across the graduation stage, but sadly due to factors such as the dwindling economic climate and the level of competition, it isn’t always that simple. Many graduates will find themselves out of college, out of work and left thinking ‘what do I do now?’
Here are some ideas:

Apply For Jobs
This is fairly obvious, but some people tend to think that job opportunities will find them, not the other way around. You need to search and search hard. Use the internet, attend job fairs and seek out opportunities. Make sure that you are focused and have strong knowledge about the area you want to go into – there’s no point just saying ‘I want to be a teacher’. Who do you want to teach? What do you want to teach? Where do you want to teach? If you aren’t totally decided on the finer details of your career path then seek advice from a career counsellor and take a career assessment test. Otherwise prospective employers may deem you as unprepared and unfocused for potential job opportunities.

Gain Experience
It can take a while to find work, but rather than spending your days moping around and watching daytime TV, try and find some voluntary work experience. Employers look for practical experience as well as academic achievements in candidates, so enhance your chances of getting a job by looking for internships, part time jobs and voluntary placements. It may mean working for nothing to begin with but it will build your experience and may even lead to something permanent. Ideally work experience should be within your chosen area of employment but even if it’s something totally unrelated, your prospective employer will be able to see that you are able to use your initiative in order to spend your spare time productively.

Hone Your Resume
Now that you’ve got your degree, you can add this to your long list of achievements on your resume. Remember, the resume will be the first thing your prospective employer sees from you and first impressions count. Make sure you market yourself well. Tailor your resume to fit the job that you are applying for and make sure the document is well presented with good grammar. Avoid the temptation to over embellish your achievements and make sure you can back up any claims that you make in order to avoid awkward moments in the interview process.
Take a Gap Year
This may not seem like the obvious choice for a recent graduate, but the time in between finishing your studies and finding a full time job is probably the best opportunity you’ll have to pursue any travelling ambitions or to simply relax after all of your hard work. When you embark into full time employment, you will no longer have the freedom or flexibility to take off for weeks or months at a time. Gap years aren’t just about taking a year out to be lazy - travelling is educational in its own right and will almost certainly broaden your horizons, enhance your life experience and provide you with new skills. You may even find potential career opportunities abroad. If you do plan to take a gap year, make sure you plan in advance so that you’ll have the funds available to do so without taking out a loan.

Prepare Yourself for the Working World
After being a student for so long, the prospect of entering a professional workplace may seem a little daunting. It’s true that the working world can be a strange place and many businesses operate in accordance with their own unique rules and policies, which you will need to adapt to. You may find yourself working with a diverse group of people, some of whom you may not always see eye-to-eye with. Remind yourself that professionalism is key and that you are there to do a job. Be ready and willing to learn and go into any new job opportunities with both your eyes and your mind open.