28 Nov Hooray, I’m a graduate! What now?
December is a crazy time for university graduates.
After all those long nights cramming before exams, putting yourself to sleep with textbooks and fretting over those group assignments, you finally have the pretty piece of paper to say you’re qualified.
Job done, right? You just need to waltz into your employer of choice, plonk the degree under the boss’s nose and wait for the handshake … Wrong!
Many students make the fatal mistake of simply waiting until they graduate before starting work in their chosen field. That isn’t much use to a potential employer.
Working three days a week in a café might be all you need to earn money as a student but a law firm, insurance agency or bank is unlikely to view that favourably.
Not having the precious piece of paper in your hand should not deter you from getting experience early in your degree. Degrees are worthless if you can’t use them and waiting to graduate doesn’t mean you can’t already enter your field of expertise.
There are an abundance of casual positions and internships to bring you up to speed before you finish all your units.
Some will be unpaid but beggars can’t be choosers. The fickle nature of employment means you’ll often have to be willing to swallow your pride and produce high-quality work for free.
Maybe you won’t bring home a paycheck, but there are many things to gain from placement in a professional workplace. You’ll have to follow directions from your boss, turn up on time, dress and groom yourself appropriately and essentially do whatever is asked of you.
If that sounds like a lot to take in, it’s better to learn now than your first day on the job. These positions offer a way to learn and make mistakes without the pressure that comes with a standard fulltime position.
That being said, it still pays to give them your all. The lack of pay shouldn’t affect your work ethic and it’s crucial to prove you take this position just as seriously as any other job.
Asking questions, working diligently and showing passion for your work are all things that will reflect positively on your professional work ethic. Going that little bit further without being asked says a lot about how you approach your work, regardless of whether the position is short-term or unpaid.
These positions also improve your networking. You may not work for your future employer, but you may work with someone who gives you the name and phone number of your future employer.
If you are in a short-term position, don’t be afraid to make an impression. Say hello, get to know everyone and perhaps give the office a box of chocolates when you’re finished to say thank you. All of these things will help everyone to remember what a great employee you were should you want to get in touch down the track.
The best thing you can do is to show enthusiasm. Ask what you can do before they ask you. Turning up and doing nothing isn’t a great look.
Contrast all of this with someone who graduates without taking those steps. While they’ll have nothing to beef up their CV, you’ll have:
- Practical experience
- Networking contacts
- A portfolio of tangible work
- A head start
At Blended Employment, we believe in the 100th cow method. Do you want to be one of the 99 cows chewing the cud? Or do you want to stand out as the one dancing in a sombrero?
Employers want workers who show initiative and make themselves that 100th cow. By building up your portfolio of work before you graduate, you’ll show why you should be hired with or without your degree.
So get out there and don’t be afraid to apply for as many of these as you can. Services like QUT’s UniHub and Seek.com.au are a great way of finding listings online but if you know what industry you’re looking to go into, ask around to see if anyone wants to take you on.
You never know, two weeks spent at one workplace could set the path for the rest of your career.