Graduate Blog

Prepare for the next step!


As we move further and further towards the later part of summer, thoughts for many will turn to the next step. September is a traditional time of year for people to start a new job, a graduate scheme, an internship or a new volunteering opportunity.

Of course it is only natural for university students who have just left 17 years of non-stop education behind them to seek and enjoyable summer, and so they should. In my experience, I spent the summer relaxing, going away with friends and just generally enjoying my time off. This was funded by doing extra hours at the place I had worked at every weekend for the previous year.

As well as enjoying your time off, I would advise that everyone should be mindful of what is next. This is one the most important times of transition in your life, and so preparation is advised. Whether you are starting something new in September or later in the year, there are a number of key things to be mindful of / do:

1)    Research. It is important when starting a new role that you are as equipped as you can possibly be when you begin. This can involve spending a couple of hours each week reading up on the company you are joining, fully understanding the sector you are going into and even speaking to others within the organization. LinkedIn can be good for that.

2)    Personal development. This is something that can really be done on a daily basis. This involves understanding what you need to do and be like to succeed in your new place of work. Again this can involve simply reading career books or how to succeed books not as guides, just to give you ideas. If you suffer from a lack of confidence or low self-esteem, rather than just reading a book on the issue, take up a new sport or volunteer in something that is outside your comfort zone. It really is crucial to ensure you are at your personal best when you begin your new role. For a number of people, they have the intelligence and the drive to succeed but none of the confidence that helps you to achieve this.

3)    Financial planning. It is always important to start a new role with some money behind you. How much depends on whether the role involves relocation, excessive travel or whether it is just down the road. This of course can be achieved by working a weekend job, selling university books or other possessions online or speaking with parents or guardians.

4)    Remain grounded. My final point is a word of warning. Often many graduates see a new job or opportunity as the finished product, job done, the rest of my life is sorted! This is often not the case. The fact is that for some a new job may not work out the way you expect or it can make you realize that it isn’t actually something you truly want to do. For some, it takes leaving a job you are not happy with to show you exactly what it is you want to do. Thus, do not take any rash decisions based on the new job until you are certain it is the perfect fit for you.

The points detailed are all from firsthand experience. I thought the graduate scheme I started last September was the job I was going to have forever. I travelled to London daily, stayed there often, both at huge cost to me. I had not saved enough money to do this and had not properly researched the job beforehand. I had also not focused on personal development which dented my confidence in some high pressured situations. Whilst in this role I struggled financially, was unsure what I was supposed to be doing and certainly did not know what I wanted from the role. I completed my 3 months and left.

That experience was a huge wake up call for me. Over the following few months I worked on myself, developed an understanding of what I truly wanted to do for a career and saved up all the money I got from both my previous job and weekend job. In the new year I started a graduate scheme in a role I wanted, in a company I respected and have been there ever since. Moral of this story: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Remain grounded and don’t lose focus of what it is you want to achieve in life! Preparation is key to succeeding in just about everything.

About the Author

Robert Robert

I graduated from the London School of Economics in July 2012, graduating with a degree in Sociology BSc. Currently I am working as a Research and Marketing Executive at a firm in the East Midlands. My job requires me to put my degree knowledge to the test, carrying out market research, developing a company marketing plan and develop relationships with new clients. Long term I plan to develop my career in Research, preferably in London, and move into Management positions long term.

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