To pursue a career for passion or money? That’s the dilemma every new graduate faces the moment they finish university. Then there are the other predicaments like whether to take a gap year, continue to postgraduate studies, enter the workforce with a good job, or try out a few different jobs. It can get overwhelming especially when many students feel like they’re being forced to make the transition from being a student to the reality of the working world.
Millennials and post-millennials are entering a vastly different working world when they graduate. A competitive job market, volatile geo-politics, the rise of the gig economy and the evolution of what employers want are just some of the hurdles fresh graduates face today.
For parents, graduation from university marks an end of an era too – children are now (and should be) independent adults ready to begin a crucial stage in life. But as they take those first apprehensive steps, here are some sound advice parents and mentors can offer to help them along.
There’s nothing like experience
Teenagers can think ahead and prepare even before graduating. As Dr Patricia Lau from Monash University’s School of Business advises, “Look out for volunteering and internship opportunities, or take up a part-time job that’s within your career interest in between your studies.” With the extra experience, you’ll know what to expect when you work. Looking for that first job can be a daunting experience. New graduates often get swamped by other people’s opinions, so it’s important to know what advice to take onboard. That first job is like a relationship – sometimes you get the right one immediately, and sometimes you need to try a few times to get there. All this experience moulds your personality and enhances the skills you need for future career moves.
Develop your network
We are constantly surrounded by people – socially, through school, at work and any activities we participate in. The choice is ours to build a network, not only through social media as is the modus operandi of most millennials and post-millennials. Keep the contact information of people you meet, especially if they are within an industry you’re interested in. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need to. It’s not about imposing on others but having the courage to put yourself in a good position particularly for a job you’re keen on. If they can help you in your job hunt, be sure to ‘repay’ their kindness with a simple meal or cup of coffee. Remember that your contacts can make you stand out from the masses and help you reach your career goals.
Social media detox
An online presence is important, and you should keep your profile private. “The goal here is to prevent potential employers from discriminating or making quick decisions in judging your personality.” Dr Patricia added. If you do want to make it public, you must manage and share posts that align your interests with any potential employers. For example, if you apply to a tech firm, the interviewer will have more assurance if the see you’re posting about the latest trends in the tech world. Remember that embarrassing images and videos should not be posted as this is highly unprofessional, and potential employers will not get a good impression if they see a picture of you with sunglasses and a beer in hand.
Dr. Patricia also mentions that if you’re worried about the gap between graduating and beginning a new job, start applying as early as possible. Having the right attitude when you apply for a job is key. Some get a job immediately, while others have to wait; but you must constantly remind yourself to stay focused and not give up. You will fail and be rejected, but these are the moments you learn the most. Having the right attitude is imperative from the job hunt and interview, right through to when you begin working. Young graduates must be aware that you will be evaluated on your performance, and good companies will not allow staff with bad attitudes to remain in place for long.
Be comfortable with public speaking
Class presentations can be a painful experience, especially if you’re shy and don’t like speaking in front of crowds. But they do prepare graduates for job interviews and work presentations. Use school presentations as the training ground to practise speaking in front of strangers, potential clients and your new work peers. Employers appreciate someone with ideas and opinions, and it shows confidence which is something that can boost your career path.
Yes, it’s a tough world out there but armed with a degree, enthusiasm, humility, confidence, a willingness to learn and no embarrassing social media posts, embarking on a career is the start of a whole new adventure!