Every student dreams of the day they graduate with honours and cruise immediately into their dream job, with fanfare and fireworks soundtracking the moment they stroll through the office doors for the first time.
The reality often hits somewhat differently. Following graduation, the job hunt can be a merciless affair and climbing the career ladder fraught with difficulty. With sacrifices required in order to bolster that CV, the lifestyle change from university to the world of work can sometimes feel jarring and tough to manage.
To acclimatise and adjust as seamlessly as possible to your new routine, here are 5 IDEAL tips to help you transition from uni life to the working world.
DON’T HAVE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
As much as you would want to jump straight out of university and into a great job, this very rarely happens. Sometimes you may have to work jobs which diverge from your skillset in order to have the money to live while you keep an eye out for other opportunities; this is totally normal and something all graduates go through.
In the current job market, it doesn’t make sense to approach it as though you’re above certain roles. Understand that this is a transition period, and don’t be too harsh on yourself. As long as you are making progress, such as filing job applications, volunteering to help those less fortunate, and taking any opportunity that comes your way, then relax; know the future will bring opportunities abundant. As an old, very successful advert made by a one-time-graduate opined, ”good things come to those who wait”.
CONTINUE WORKING ON YOURSELF
Just because you have graduated doesn’t mean that there is nothing else left to learn. In fact, you’re only just getting started. Keep on honing your skills by acquiring more of them, keeping things versatile and adaptable to as many roles as possible.
The more qualifications you have on your CV, the better your chances of landing your dream job. Additionally, work on your soft skills such as teamwork, attentiveness, flexibility, building relationships, and diligence. Hard skills may earn your first job, but soft skills play a significant role in pushing you up the job ladder.
MAKE IMPORTANT CAREER DECISIONS
As much as you may not have many work options at the moment, the transition period is a time to strategise and make career decisions. If you are an international student, you can apply for ILR with the aid of immigration lawyers, which will ensure you settle legally and give yourself more flexibility in the job market.
Of course, decisions on your life will also affect your career, so it might be wise to strategise in this area, too. Though many have ridiculed the notion of having a five or ten year ‘plan’, having some sense of your intentions sketched out can help you make career decisions sensibly. Is settling down and buying your first house a priority, or would you like to further your education? Would you like to live abroad, to broaden your cultural outlook? Do you want to focus on helping people or the environment, rather than simply chase a paycheck? Strategising holistically is hugely prudent here.
Employers’ needs and preferences change, and so do the demands of the job market. This is currently more true than ever, both due to the soaring prevalence and influence of social media, and the recent coronavirus crisis. Knowing which sets of skills (both hard and soft) are in currently most in demand (and having the foresight to predict the needs of a changing job market) will help you raise your standards to the market expectations, which will land you a better job faster.
GET ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS AND MENTORS
It may be a long and hard journey, especially when walking alone. Seek solace and advice from university friends who are also in the transition period and will be inevitably going through the same things. Even more importantly, seek mentors on your career path. Talk to them, get advice, and learn how they transitioned into a fully fledged career. Mentors may also help you land job opportunities or advise you on positioning yourself in the job market.
The transition period is full of uncertainties and fears, but it’s also a time to think and plan the career life you have always wanted. Doing this with practicality and prudence at the forefront of your thinking may well set you up for life. Good luck!