In 3/4/5 years, you’ll be graduating with some sort of degree or degree-level qualification. Hey, you might even be doing a masters or a doctorate for all I know. The one thing I do know is that right now it seems like the end is ages away but, as everyone and their dog will tell you, the time flies by. It’s absolutely true; one minute you’re sitting in a lecture theatre trying to work out how to jot all of these words down, and the next you’re handing in your dissertation or final major project. Many people say that these are the best years of your life, but let’s try to keep that part not true.
Life after Uni will be hard, that is a fact. There’s no sugar-coating it; you will be in a heap of debt, you will have no job, and all of your friends will be going in very different directions, meaning your sparkling social life will hit a serious low. Before you start sobbing uncontrollably into your screen, may I remind you that you will have a shiny new qualification under your belt.
These days though, a degree (or something similar) is just the beginning. Now, everyone wants experience, so my advice to you is to go out there and get some while you still have the funds and the freedom to do so. Before your term breaks come up, get online and get contact numbers and names for all the places you fancy working for. Don’t email and get lost in the heap of enquiries that land in their mailbox every day; call and specifically ask for some work experience, detailing the dates you will be available. No reply? Get dialling again, or if it’s close, even turn up on the doorstep. Seeing your face and hearing your voice will make you more memorable. If you’ve got the time and the creativity, why not send them a video, a card or a sample of your portfolio to show them you’re not one of those lazy clones.
Online presence is something you really need to think about now. It is so easy for a prospective employer to Google you, so you want to make a good lasting impression. Get rid of those iffy drunken photos right now and start creating a professional persona online. Wix is a great place to start when trying to build your own website, however, there are loads of websites you can use to host your site. Your next step is to create a LinkedIn account and your own Facebook page, and you’re well on your way to making a great impression. Love writing like me? Make sure your Pinterest is loaded with bookish quotes and inspiration. Oh, and one more thing? Keep it all up to date! You don’t want an employer thinking you haven’t done anything for months just because you haven’t updated your profile recently.
Your CV is still the first thing an employer will see when you apply for jobs. It will be the thing that will get you noticed, so invest some time and effort into writing one that sells your abilities and your personality, as well as being easy to read and succinct. Your University should be able to help you with this, so ensure you pop in to get some good advice. However, there is also a lot of help available on the internet, so please use all the resources you can get your hands on.
Contacts are key at the moment as jobs are quite scarce (at least, in the UK that’s the case), so make sure you build friendships and working relationships with everyone you come across. Build rapports with prospective employers so they know you before you even apply for a job with them. Thanks to social media, especially Twitter, this is getting a lot easier to do, so go ahead and get yourself heard.
Finally, and I know this is incredibly boring but please stay with me, plan what you’re going to do when you leave. If you’re creative, will you be freelancing? If so, what equipment will you need to have to do this and how much money will you need to save up for it? If you plan on going down the career route, is your current experience relevant or do you need more? You might want to get into a graduate scheme or an Internship straight away, and in that case, you need to start working towards that goal ASAP. Asking yourself these tough questions now instead of putting it off is going to save you a lot of work and a lot of misery later on, because by the time your final deadline looms you won’t have to be in a free-fall; you’ll have it all figured out.