One of the daunting questions that every student has to ask themselves, after completing their university course is “What place of work is ideal for me as a new graduate?”
Unfortunately work in general is more scarce nowadays than 15 years ago and this can have a major effect on the job you choose to accept as a new graduate. It was estimated that in the year 2000 the unemployment rate in Europe corresponded with 9.2% of the total labour force. Since then there have been a few ups and downs in this figure, but even though it has started to decrease in the last few years, the rate still sat at a 9.9% at the beginning of 2015. In America, although the unemployment rate is significantly lower, we can still see the same trend occur. In 2000 the rate was estimated at 4% of the total labour force, whereas in 2015 it sat at 5.3%. This number is obviously higher than the 2000 estimate, however decreasing from the 2010 estimate of 9.6%.
That said, there is still generally more specialised work available corresponding to certain degrees. Research into the employment rate of people with your degree, available jobs for people with your degree and average wage is suggested before you even go to university. There are many a student who don’t bother to look into these statistics before starting their course and then they face the shock of realising that there aren’t that many available jobs waiting for them when they graduate. My advice is to keep an eye on these rates before and during your university career.
One big piece of advise that you will probably hear from many a person is to create a network. It is never too early to make connections and collect names and numbers of people you may one day have to ask a favour of. Start early, while you’re still studying and that way when you graduate you have the chance to pull on these connections and hopefully find a job that is the right move for you. You can meet these connections anywhere, so if the opportunity arises tell people about what you’re studying, where you hope to work when you graduate, etc. You never know who you might meet. I met a woman last summer at the beach, whilst working as a babysitter, who happened to work in the field I am studying for. We got to know each other and when I told her about my plans to be a vet, she gave me her name and number and told me to ring if I ever needed any help. That’s an extra link in the network.
Something else to think about before you graduate is experience. Most universities maintain connections with a variety of companies, so that they can offer internships, work experience placements, etc. to their students. If you do not already have any experience in your field it is advisable to look into it, as most students take advantage of these opportunities and will have a leg up on you if you have not done the same. These placements also give you the chance to get a feel of the sort of work you would prefer to look for once you have completed your course.
Once you have graduated and earned your degree there are a few things you should consider before you make a career decision.
Obviously there are the basics: whether you are flexible on where you would like to live, the amount of hours you would prefer to work, the type of job you are hoping to get, etc.
There are also other considerations to think about. Firstly, what are your strengths? A lot of students accept the first job they are offered and although I am not suggesting that you turn down every job offer that isn’t 100% ideal (there’s no such thing as the perfect job!), I am advising that you try to find a job that plays more to your strengths. For example, if you’re a business graduate who spent 6 months specialising in business assessment and consultation and you know that that is the area in which you thrive, don’t panic and accept a job in labour relations just because it was your first offer! Consider all possibilities and compare them to your strengths before making a decision.
The next big thing to think about is support. Taking your first job as a new graduate can be daunting and there will still be a learning curve as you adjust to the job. You need to think about the support offered to you during this period of time. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential employer at interviews about senior members of staff and how they can help you, training and other new staff member support. Some businesses will offer a trial period to see whether you adapt well to the job and get on with other staff members. This is as much for you as it is for your employer to see how you work. Use this time to consider whether this job is right for you and take a look at both the aspects you like about the job and those you dislike. A bit of research into the company is also advisable and will help with this process.
Finally don’t be disappointed if the position you are offered is a bit “lowly”. Remember you are a new graduate and have to work your way up. But take the time to look at where this job could lead. Most new graduates leave their first job within 24 months, so if the experience you will gain from a work place is beneficial, don’t worry too much about whether it’s a dead-end job or not. However if you are considering a job in a company that you admire and would like to remain a part of, take the time to look at where this first step could lead. Ask your interviewer whether there would be the possibility of promotion once having trained and gained experience, do a little research into how often staff are promoted within the company and whether the company offers your ideal work placement.
These are all things to look into before you make your final decision and I would say that it warrants a certain amount of time and effort, as this decision could affect your career in a positive or negative way. Everyone wants their first job to be a pleasant experience and unfortunately it won’t just be handed to you on a plate. Every student has to work out for themselves the best move for them.