Career advisors are incredibly helpful people. From advising on your future to giving feedback on your CV, they’re the people to go to when it comes to working out life after university.
However, there’s some things even career advisors can’t prepare you for. As someone who’s recently graduated from university, there’s some things I didn’t realise until far too late.
Here’s two things I wish I’d known before graduating into the job market.
1. It Can Take 1 – 2 Years Before You Get Your First Job
I’m deadly serious. One to two years. No one warned me about this when I was in university. I’d always assumed my first job would come a few months after graduation at most. When an older friend who graduated before me got their first role after a couple of years, I thought they were a rare case. Then I graduated in the middle of a pandemic and realised what a fool I was.
Now, almost seven months after graduating, I’m competing with hundreds of other graduates just to get work experience. I’ve been doing freelance stuff on the side which has helped me to gain interest and interviews, but nothing permanent. Even getting a part-time job is next to impossible.
This led me to feel incredibly guilty until I found out I wasn’t the only one. Whenever I expressed my feelings (ok, moaned) about not being able to find a job, everyone knew someone my age who was still looking after a year, even two or three.
After university, you need to be prepared to be out of work for a long, long time. Save as much of your student loan as possible, live with your family (if you can) and get a part-time job you can see yourself being in for the long-term. This will save you a lot of financial stress.
2. Most Recruiters Don’t Care About Your Grades (Or Even What You Learnt)
Ignore this bit if you’re a doctor/architect/vet student. Everyone else; listen to me.
The education system brings you up to believe that only having the highest grades will get you anywhere in life. It’s something that I held onto way too much when I was younger. In reality, unless your course involves work experience, most companies don’t care about your grades or even what you learnt on your modules.
It’s important to get good grades in order to pass your course, yes, but you also need to set time aside for work experience, contributing to societies, maybe even volunteering. These will interest recruiters more when they scan over your CV.
Educators need to be more honest about how far grades actually take you. I appreciate it needs to be drummed into teenagers to stop them slacking off, but this needs to be balanced out by pointing out the importance of real-world work skills.
If you’re having trouble finding work experience in your chosen area, like me, try employing yourself on a freelance basis. Not only does it keep you practicing your skills, you might just decide this working-for-others thing isn’t really up your street.
Use grades as a source of personal pride, rather than pinning your hopes on them for the future.
Although this all sounds scary, please don’t panic. Now that you know finding a job isn’t as simple as sending in an application and entering the workplace straight after graduation, you’ll be more prepared for the time, struggle and triumph of finding your first job.
By Catrin Lawrence