If you’re nearing the end of your time as a student, you should savour the precious time you have left at uni, while also preparing yourself to hit the ground running when you graduate
The good news is that, by having a degree, you are likely to have increased your earning potential. Figures published by the Department for Education in 2019 showed that working-age graduates aged 16–64 earned a median salary of £34,000 in 2018, a rise of £1,000 from the previous year, while their non-graduate peers who chose a different path earned a median salary of £24,000. However, a 2018 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also revealed that, in England, 28 per cent of graduates have jobs which do not require a degree. So how can you help to ensure that your first position is a graduate-level job?
Get the right work experience
‘Employers are surprisingly specific of the work-ready skills you’re supposed to bring in,’ warns Matt Sigelman, CEO of analytics software firm Burning Glass Technologies. This puts the onus on you to start considering your first post-graduation job well before you actually graduate.
Sigel insists that, while still at university, you should enrol in courses and look for jobs and internships that will send the right signal to recruiters: yes, you are ready for the job.
Broaden your horizons
Right now, you might have a general sector of work, rather than a specific role, in mind – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this could inadvertently benefit you by allowing you to keep your options open, and so avoid a common blunder in looking for a graduate-level job – aiming too high. If, for example, your ultimate goal is to become a buyer for a fashion retailer, you could find that taking a similar job in a different sector may work better for getting your foot in the door.
Get a big name on your CV
Another benefit of broadening your horizons with your job search is that you could uncover opportunities from some surprisingly big names. Simply having that big name on your CV can convey a prestige that tells future employers you meet a gold standard. This is emphasised in an article entitled Should New Grads Take Any Job or Wait for the Right One? in the Harvard Business Review article by Jodi Glickman, CEO of leadership development firm Great on the Job, in which she refers to her early spell at Goldman Sachs.
Find out what the job actually involves
It sounds like an obvious thing to learn about, but you could end up knowing surprisingly little what you would be doing on a day-to-day basis in a role if you fail to ask the right questions, an surprisingly easy mistake to make.In a recent article for The Muse, non-profit marketer Melinda Price urges readers to prepare a list of questions, such as what do the interviewers enjoy about working at their firm and what characteristics would help you to thrive there. You must assess that you are the right fit for the company.
The office culture
If you do the interview remotely, such as over Skype, you might not get a great insight into an organisation’s office culture. Would you prefer a small, quiet office or somewhere akin to a larger, bustling community? This is an important factor when choosing where to work, so try to make sure you get a good feel for what the office environment is like.
Increasing numbers of students are setting up their own businesses straight after leaving uni, and there are numerous resources and organisations available if you’re interested in creating a start-up. Your university will have an entrepreneurship society, which offers a low-risk, supportive environment in which you can test a start-up concept and hone your entrepreneurial skills.
If your idea has wings, you could even get launch your own company before you graduate, and many UK universities have incubator units to provide support and resources for fledgling start-up businesses. And then, upon graduation, you may even be in a position to be looking to hire your own workspace, such as these offices in London from BE London, which will give you the freedom to make your working environment as small and intimate or as big and bustling as you require.
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