Although it wasn't that long since I was a graduate, I wanted to share some advice from experiences of me and my flatmates;
Be willing to work for free
It is difficult to accept a job that doesn’t pay, but don’t let your ego get in the way of being able to gain some really valuable experiences. Some unpaid internships can offer you a wealth of experience, contacts, mentorship and skills you can’t gain at university. I worked for a social enterprise for 6 months and I can honestly say it gave me the stepping stones for where I am today. My mentor is now one of my dearest friends and I am still learning from her. During my internship she was able to give me an understanding of the professional business world, made time for me and made sure I was getting the most out of the internship. Seeking out these opportunities is highly recommended even if it is only for a short while to give you the first steps of your career.
London is not the world nor the only answer to unemployment
I heard so many of my classmates saying, “you have to to London, it’s where all the jobs are” time and time again. I did toy with the idea but I knew in my heart that’s not where I wanted to end up for my career. Okay, yes there are a lot of graduate jobs in London, but there is also a lot of people there too - meaning a hell of a lot of competition!
There are other downsides to London too; ridiculously high rents, long commutes, loneliness, high cost of living to name a few. Of course, London is great city in its own way and has lots of opportunities but make sure are moving for the right reasons and not a feeling of obligation.
Choose a role based on experience over salary
If you’re lucky enough to get offered more than one graduate job after uni choose experience over salary. Say, job A pays £2,000 more than job B - is that really going to change your life dramatically? But the experience you will gain could ultimately shape the rest of your career, if it is more suited to the area you want to develop in and allow you to progress further in the long run. Bite the bullet now and it will pay dividends in your future!
Now is the time to explore a business idea
Many people think you have to wait to be an entrepreneur, have to wait to get enough money, enough experience or a business idea absolutely perfect. Fresh out of uni is a perfect time to explore a business idea, when you have no responsibilities and you can still get away with living with your parents. Bootstrap and keep your risks to a minimum and hey, if you fail you will have learnt a hell of a lot and if it’s a success, you have created your own job! Either way if you don’t want to explore your own business idea forever you will have created yourself a lot of material for future interviews and courage will always be recognised by employers.
Even if you have a day job and a burning business idea, explore it on the side and see what you can come of it. For example William Mayne, a friend and ex-classmate pursued his passion for brewing and started his own business, Bullhouse Brewery. William now has a range of great tasting beers, beautifully branded and available around Northern Ireland, as well as a loyal following and has given William an opportunity to pursue what he loves!
Wisdom from the man himself;
"There are so many resources available on the internet you can learn almost any skill online. I was toying with the idea of undertaking an MBA but decided I could invest it in myself and start my own business, with limited potential to become my own boss.
The limitless potential of taking my business in any direction I would like is very liberating and it’s something I would encourage anyone to do once in their life. I love being efficient and running your own business, you get the biggest rewards for efficiency. If you’re sitting in your job thinking ‘in another X years I can have the freedom to make my own decisions’ why not begin now?? What is there to lose?!
Keep your fixed costs low and pursue your passion before you get that big mortgage!"
Not everyone has their life together
The last year of university, you hear a lot of people have interviews, people going through assessment centers, getting lots of offers and in general “adulting” really well. But don’t be fooled. Yes, everyone will probably be talking about it but not everyone will actually getting those jobs never mind their dream one. It’s easy to get caught up and think everyone has got everything together, but in reality probably only 20% of your class will have a guaranteed job by the end of the academic year. It’s okay not to get the dream job straight away, try and aim for 2 out 3 – role, company and location. It’s also okay to go for a temporary student job while you find your feet.
Leaving the security of uni can be a scary time but fear not, you are not alone in feeling this!
Leave me a comment if you any questions or if I can help you with anything :)
Thanks for reading!
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