I was walking along Brindley Place in Birmingham through the ICC – Symphony Hall and encountered crowds of graduates from Birmingham City University taking pictures in their hats and gowns. Their family and friends had beautiful smiles on their faces. I stopped by for few seconds to soak the celebratory atmosphere of achievement.
It took me back to the early years of my life in Mumbai India. I did not graduate from a University and did not get the opportunity to wear the hat and gown and throw my hat in the air. I felt a little twinge in my heart. I do not have a degree.
I barely passed school and made it through getting a two-year diploma in Theology back in the 80’s from Birmingham Bible Institute and that’s it. Not sure why the employers did not take notice of my Diploma. Anyway, it doesn’t matter now. As someone said, there are great universities and there’s life university where we all can learn something from.
So, to get to the point:
- Firstly. I want to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart on your achievement. Well done!
- Secondly. What’s next?
My experience working with graduates and undergraduates especially from China tells me there are 4 possible choices to choose from.
1. Getting a graduate job
I came across this article with web links that could help you. If you haven’t yet decided on the precise career you want to pursue, take a look at what can I do with my degree?, Job Match and explore job sectors of interest for some ideas. Also, remember that your first job doesn’t tie you to a particular career forever, so don’t be too cautious about widening your search for graduate jobs.
The world needs to know that you exist and what you have to offer. I don’t have to tell you that Social Media platforms are one way to get yourself noticed. Perhaps you are already in one or more and your world knows about you.
A friendly tip. What employers usually research about you before they get in touch with you? What really matters is your attitude and not just aptitude. Both are equally important. By attitude I mean, will you fit into the organisation’s corporate culture,and embrace the company’s ethos and values?
If you feel your social media content is only meant for your friends and not for employers it is better to take the content and images down. Alternatively, create your own social media business profile with your innate skills, talents and qualifications. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are good places to be.
Finding a job takes time. But you should be careful not to allow a gap to develop on your CV, as potential employers may question it later at interviews. If you’re struggling to find a job straight after graduation fill your time with internships, volunteering, part-time work or a stint of work shadowing.
Says Kate (CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2016, July 2016.) ‘
Don’t be downhearted if you leave university with a 2:2. Research has shown that 87% of businesses look first and foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace, while only 55% of employers consider the degree result to be important.’
However, while some large employers do accept 2:2s on their graduate schemes, many insist on a 2:1. Therefore, you may need to look beyond these and consider starting your career at a smaller organisation where the entry requirements are often more flexible, then working your way up to where you want to be. (Source…Prospect July 2017 – Jemma Smith)
Careers advisers are also good sounding boards when it comes to seeking full-time and work experience positions or you could try online resources such as milkround.com and graduatetalentpool.direct.gov.u
I took early retirement after 27 years’ service in the in the public sector and became self-employed.
Here are a few things that I learnt by starting my own business. I felt excited about the entrepreneurial drive. And that’s good. You must have the mindset and the confidence to venture out.
Many years ago, I learnt hard-hitting lessons from the mistakes I made. My passion for golf and turning into a business by launching my own brand in the market. (summary – it failed!) and I lost around £20k.
I had put the cart before the horse. Lessons learnt are branded in my mind of what mistakes not to make. Now I coach those who are thinking of starting up business by going through a pre-flight check of both the idea and the processes.
A few questions you might wish to consider.
- Ask yourself WHY are you starting this business?
- Who else is doing it out there?
- What new or different can you bring that others are not doing?
- What kind of attitude do you have towards taking risks? (scale it on 1-10) 1 is very low and 10 very high. Then ask, how will you manage those risks?
- Can you write a business plan that would convince you to invest your money in your business? If it convinces you, then it could convince your investors.
- How do you visualize your business to look in the first, second, third, fourth and fifth year?
- Who else would take interest in your business? And what kind of support would you expect from them?
- Who will mentor and coach you through the early process?
If you have the confidence, tenacity and business acumen to get your organisation off the ground, Kate (CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2016, July 2016.) explains that the advantages to self-employment can include:
- independence and autonomy – to make your own decisions.
- control – over who you work with and the type of work you do.
- freedom – to work when you like on projects that make your heart sing.
- flexibility – to fit work commitments in with family and other interests.
- opportunities – to build a portfolio of activities funded by different sources and to respond to ideas and proposals as you see fit.
- recognition – you’re able to take the credit for everything that you do, create, design or invent.
Here’s a great blog on the joys of being self-employed that might give you that extra boost.
However, ensure that self-employment is right for you, whether running an online operation or from business premises.
Being your own boss might sound like fun, but as the owner of a business, you’ll need to juggle a number of responsibilities, such as providing a service, marketing the business and financial and staff management. You’ll also have to work to attract customers and deal with the uncertainty surrounding the availability of work. Self-employment can also affect your home life when the boundaries between work and leisure become blurred.
3. Pursue Postgraduate Study
An alternative option is to return to university to study at postgraduate level, a route that many have found incredibly rewarding. However, you’ll need to make sure you are doing this for the right reasons.
‘If you have a real desire to study a particular aspect of your undergraduate course in more depth, then postgraduate study is the answer. Some career areas, such as law and psychology, require further study at postgraduate level in order to qualify.’
Philippa Hardie (Careers Consultant at the University of Chester).
Don’t take on a Masters degree to stall for time or to boost general employability. Courses are expensive and unnecessary for certain jobs. Before committing to postgraduate study make sure you have valid reasons for doing so and research course and institution options thoroughly. Speak to your careers service to weigh up your postgraduate options and talk to family members, postgraduate course leaders and people already in the jobs you’d like to do to ask if a Masters is worthwhile.
4. Take a Gap Year
I have travelled a lot, but not just for holidays, lying on the beach in the sun sipping cocktails or sightseeing. Yes, I did a bit of that too, but then graduated to travelling more for the reasons of understanding the history of the country, its people, languages, their traditions, their cultures and food of course. I love cooking at fresh healthy meals at home at a fraction of the cost of eating out, takeaways, and frozen ready meals. This does come with some challenges. Find out more.
If you want to see more of the world, learn languages, experience different cultures and meet new people, before settling down to a work routine, you could take a gap year. Back-packing makes you a much more interesting job candidate and can make you more employable in the long run. Taking time out to travel demonstrates maturity, good organisation and planning skills and self-sufficiency.
Working while travelling is also a great way to boost your CV and develop a range of skills. Taking a year out to weigh up your options, decide where your professional interests lie, travel and gain life experience also helps you to make more informed career decisions in the future.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do you’ll need to have an action plan in place for when your return. Don’t expect a job to be waiting for you when you get back to reality. To find out what it’s like to get a job in another country, explore working abroad.
There’s a lot to absorb, reflect, consult and then make a decision that works for you the best. As I say You Are the Master of Your Destiny.
My experience tells me there are two sides to decision-making.
- Without discussing or seeking wise and professional advice.
- Discussing with someone who is professional, credible, experienced and wise. They can enlighten you with words of wisdom. (This worked better for me).
I could be of help to you in…
- Compiling a powerful CV & covering letter.
- Interviewing skills.
- Developing confidence.
- Discovering options that work best for you.
- If you are thinking of starting up a business.