Think You’re Ready? Think again.
You can never be over prepared
Graduation is an exciting time, isn’t it? You’ve spent the last 3 or 4 years studying, reporting, writing, learning, laughing, crying and studying some more, and it’s now all about to come to an end. You have every right to be excited. All your accomplishments of the last few years will come to fruition as you are handed that so, so valuable piece of paper on your graduation day. You are ready to make your mark on the world.
But in this mask of excitement, it can be easy to forget a few things, namely making sure you are indeed ready to be moving onto the next stage in your life.
The transition from student to professional isn’t as seamless as you might think, and there are certain measures that you need to take in order to place yourself in prime position to becoming a successful graduate. Not just a graduate full stop.
Something that a lot of students tend to, let’s say, let fall by the wayside. Financially, being a student can be a difficult time. If you’re working, then it’s likely only part time – and this doesn’t provide the biggest of pay cheques. And if you’re on finance, then you need to make sure that you’re covering all your bills and outgoings. There’s more than likely going to have to be some form of frugality taking place throughout your student days.
This is why you need to make sure they are in check. I’m not saying that you have to have thousands of pounds tucked away in savings account (although that would definitely help.) I’m saying that you need to make sure that you will be okay for future financial dealings, such as a mortgage or even a business loan if you’re the adventurous type. Your credit score may be tarnished from your student days: late rent, missed mobile phone bills, student overdrafts etc so it is imperative that you check and manage your credit score accordingly. If it’s good, make sure it stays that way. If it isn’t so good, start fixing it, now.
A lot of students may think that as they leave the graduation ceremony, they are going to be using their rolled up diplomas to fight off the inevitable job offers. This couldn’t be more wrong. Finding a job is a job in itself. Generally, graduation happens around May time, so if you didn’t start looking for and apply for jobs in say January, you’ve left it a bit late.
When you think about the amount of other graduates who are in the job market (around 350,000 in 2014) it really does put in perspective what you’re up against. Of course you aren’t up against each and every one of the other graduates, but you will be facing a lot. Having your CV as effective as possible is a must, so make sure it is relevant to the job(s) you are applying for, and make sure it stands out in some way. Networking is also very important. Use LinkedIn and Facebook to your advantage, know your potential interviewers before you go in. Your lecturers and tutors will also be a great source for networking possibilities. These are people who have been around and have likely made some connections in their time. It won’t hurt to enquire.
There will be a lot of similarities between student life and professional life. There will be reports; stress; deadlines; unwanted co-pilots. But the only difference will not be that you are wearing a suit. No, in contrast to professional life, being a student is fairly laid back. We arguably coast higher education with our friends that we’ve made, more concerned about getting a nice cold beer after your last lecture than the lecture itself. As disheartening as it may sound, this will need to stop.
There will be a lot that you didn’t learn in Uni or College, and this is what you’re going to have to act on – and it’s not a case of ‘I know everything I need to know for this position as I excelled in my studies.’ It would be easier if it was, but it isn’t. Professionalism is something that you’ll have to master early on, otherwise you are going to catch the attention of your superiors early on, but for the wrong reasons. ‘Office politics’ is another terms that you might encounter on your career path, and again, you can’t ignore them. In a manner of speaking, learn how to play the game.
Now these might seem a bit ominous, but the quicker you take heed of them the better. You will only be helping yourself.