Congrats graduate, on your huge effort to finish College or University. It’s a massive achievement!
Glad it’s over?
Remember when teachers used to say to you, “When you get older, you will wish you were back at school”? This is SO TRUE. You had it easy!
Having just graduated from College or University, you are now at a real crossroads in your life. “What do I do now?”
Are you planning a gap year to go travelling? Applying for that graduate job you worked so hard to get to? Want to start your own business? Or just chillin’, figuring out your options?
It can be a tough point working out what to do next. Chances are up until now, you have spent your life in education. Everything was all planned and set out for you. However, now you’re done and ready to embark on the world.
I graduated around seven months ago and I have learnt a lot about the world of work. This is not something that education prepares you for!
“It’s frustrating stepping back and watching the education system to continue to do the same thing it has always done, whilst the world continues to evolve at a scary pace around it!”.
So, from a recent graduate, to shiny new baby graduates, here’s some advice to prepare you for life after graduation and your first few steps towards on your career path:
Life Long Learning
What? More learning I hear you say? I bet you’re sick of it!
Well actually, you’re gonna need it and it will be the most rewarding thing for you later in your career.
Throughout your education, you have been taught how to think and are also limited to the skills within your particular subject area. This ain’t going to be enough, sorry to break it to you!
The world of work is changing very fast and lifelong jobs are pretty much non-existent. There is a very high chance you will have over 10 different jobs throughout your working life and they won’t all be relying on the same skills.
Lifelong learning gives you a better understanding of the world around us, boosts your confidence, makes you more adaptable to change and keeps you engaged.
In the world of work, these are all things employers will notice: if you are making the time to go and learn new things.
There is nothing wrong with putting on your CV that you completed a course online, that you read books and blogs. It shows a willingness to learn and an open mind.
You’re at the start of your career, however, you may find a few years down the line that you want to do something new. Participating in lifelong learning will open up many new opportunities to you. You might discover new things that you have never considered before and this may help you truly find that one thing you love doing.
Networking is vital but that doesn’t mean a night out on the town! I’m talking real business networking.
There is an abundance of opportunities to attend networking events within the particular industry you are interested in. And a great place to start looking for these is “Eventbrite”.
Networking can open up opportunities for you in terms of: job possibilities, advice, contacts, and even mentoring. People will be happy to point you in the right direction and offer help where they can.
Don’t turn up to a networking event just for the banter. Make sure that it is something you are interested in as this will allow you to fully engage in conversation.
As with most things, do your research in advance. You may be able to check out who will be attending the event in advance (people and businesses). You might discover that there is someone local in your industry, that you would love to chat with.
By attending networking events, you may also be able to get up-to-date information and insider tips from the industry, that can be valuable in your attempts to secure that job and further your career.
Most importantly, you will be relationship building. The contacts you meet at networking events can come in handy either now or at a later date. Don’t just think one-way by always looking at how people can HELP YOU – what can YOU OFFER other people?
Stay open minded and stay in touch.
We are all growing, searching for happiness and success. We all have our different definitions of these too. One of the biggest resources that is going to help you throughout your life is having the right mindset. A “Growth Mindset”.
With a Growth Mindset, people believe that they can develop their most basic abilities, through dedication and hard work. The opposite is a “Fixed Mindset”, where people believe that they can “only play the hand they are dealt” and that it is only your natural talent that gets you places.
The Growth Mindset will allow you to love learning and become resilient in an ever-changing world. This will give you the best chance of achieving great things. The greatest minds have a Growth Mindset!
No One Will Care as Much as You.
The toughest thing I have learnt is that no one will care as much as you do about your career. Ultimately a business is there to make money and accomplish their mission; not to make sure you accomplish your career. That is completely down to you and your work.
Don’t get me wrong, there are companies who have amazing company cultures so choose wisely. Again, do your research and make sure it fits with your own values, as you will enjoy it a lot more. Always look at the bigger picture.
You will probably go through a few jobs before you find one that suits you and that’s ok. Don’t be attracted by the money alone or there’s a high chance you’ll be working in a job you don’t like.
What’s the company’s mission or purpose? What is their culture like? Are they in people? Can I progress? How can I learn? How can I get the most from the job?
Think about all the things that matter to you right now, do they matter to the company too?
It’s OK to Change
It’s OK to change your mind. We are all growing up and developing, so something you think is good for you now might change later.
If you decide to take a graduate job at £25,000 a year now, because you thought the money was awesome, you might find that you change your mind in a few years. In the future, you may discover that that the money isn’t that important to you and instead you want a job with more purpose or flexibility. You may go down a completely different career path altogether. And you might even start your own business (we’re very biased but this is our hope!).
Don’t think you have to be committed to something forever just because that’s how society makes it out, or because that’s what your parents have done. Don’t be stuck in a job that makes you miserable just for the money. Remember, a company is ultimately looking to achieve their mission, not necessarily after you. You need to look after you!
Do what is in the best interests of you and your life. Keep reviewing this as it will change as your get older.
There Are Other Options!
Most people think that a degree is aimed at getting them into that well paid Graduate job. The opportunity to work with the biggest corporates in the world. But it’s not all that. There are other options out there!
For example, you can work for a startup company, which is a great place to get into early. And if you enjoy it, you will grow with the business as it grows. This is also a great opportunity to learn different aspects of a business, rather than being stuck in one department, which will probably happen in a Graduate job.
One of the options we like to emphasise is that you can actually start your own business.
Why not? If you have an idea or a talent that you can monetise, and it’s something that people want, get it out there!
We have worked with some people, who have both graduated from College or University or decided it wasn’t for them, that have started their own businesses. For example: Kirsten Manzi Jewellery, Claire’s Maestro Music Studio and Kirk Kilbane Mobile Valeting Services.
If you are not sure where to start, there is plenty of help out there. Acorn Enterprise provides a free Business Accelerator Programme in Fife and Dundee. During this structured and intensive programme, we work with new business owners to develop: confidence, business skills and clarity.
Have a really good think about what matters to you now, do your research, and then get going!
Remember, always continue to learn new skills and knowledge to contribute towards your growth. Develop relationships that will contribute to your learning, and for guidance. Develop the Growth Mindset to allow you to overcome resistance, and to continue to learn and grow.
Ultimately, do what is right for you because you are the person that cares most about your life.