That same old, mind boggling question: “So… what shall we do, now that we’re done?’ (Oh the joys of being a student!)
“Hmmm, I’m not exactly sure, but maybe…” is usually what we end up saying (Indeed, it is hard to put into words exactly what we are thinking of but we have all done it). BUT, now that we are finishing or have finished our exams and are expecting to graduate this July, the recurring thought ‘What should I do next?’ can be extremely difficult to come to terms with, not to mention daunting, worrying and confusing.
But first things first, do not panic. Most of us (if not all) soon-to-be-graduates are in the same boat… Trying to find ourselves, what we are interested in, what type of career would be most suitable for us, what we enjoy doing? Easier said then done, huh? As hard as it may seem, it is not impossible. Every new journey needs for you to take that first, gradual step. So here’s the thing, take this new found sense of opportunity and freedom from those essays as a stage of transition, so that you are able to reflect on what you really love doing (or what you can see yourself doing in the near future or long-term).
I am no lecturer of course, but I have a few simple and honest tips to share with you, my fellow students, on some of the things you could do to give yourself a better chance out there. At Goldsmiths, there are so many opportunities for you to get involved with around campus, so it’s only a matter of keeping your eyes peeled for those! For instance, I wanted to get more involved in extra curricular activities so I signed myself up in to joining this incredible, non-profit, arts and creativity based organisation called CEN8, who run many different types of projects and events on campus, which are kindly supported by our students. Feel free to check out CEN8’s website and online blog (it’s pretty cool, if I may say so myself): cen8.com or cen8gold.wordpress.com. Also, take a look around campus and ask your classmates if they know of any good societies or clubs to join. Getting involved is not only great answer to enriching your personal and social life, but shows future employers that you’re a diverse and determined individual with many interests!
THE HEAVEN-SENT LIST OF TOP 10 TIPS:
CAUTION: PLEASE READ RESPONSIBLY.
- Go outside, ask your local stores/employees for any helpful information or insight to what’s going on in the area. They may know of something which is currently happening in the area or will be coming up soon, such as student volunteer opportunities, job vacancies, short courses, company internships or work placements. You may as well try your luck, you never know what might come of it! By asking someone at your local coffee or charity shop, they may be more inclined to help you, especially if you are a regular customer. Another benefit is that you get to communicate with them one-to-one. They may even know someone who’s recruiting…
- I know you’ve heard it all before, but it’s worth signing on to as many job, work placement and internship websites as possible (I think I’ve joined every existing one!) Some I highly recommend are Goldsmiths CareersSpace, totaljobs.com, indeed.co.uk, JobOnline and Prospects. The more, the better. Also, look through the type of job recommendations they send you via email so that you can get a familiar feel as to what many employers ask for.
- Get your CV up to scratch! Yes, it is an essential to get yours looking as clean, polished and tidy as possible. You should make sure that everything on there is highly relevant and up-to-date. The Careers Service here on campus (and free for students to use) can support and advise you with this – such as changing the structure or presentation of your CV. (And remember, your CV should not be more than two A4 pages long. In some applications, one page is enough!)
- Practise writing those cover letters. Did I hear a sigh? As the old saying goes, ‘Practise makes perfect’. Just imagine you are writing a persuasive letter to your dream company or job role. You will need to sell yourself and come across as enthusiastic. In your letter (usually one A4 page), mention your skills, knowledge/awareness, any relevant or impressive experiences you’ve had over the last few years, your most recent qualifications gained etc. and why you believe you are an excellent candidate for the role. In a box, advertise what you have to offer. However, it is easy to forget that one of the most attractive qualities is drive. The more determined you seem through your choice of wording, the more your employer will see that spark of potential. (Again, the Goldsmiths Careers Service can guide you through this process.)
- Master the art of interviews – one of the many great services available at the Careers Service, so you might as well make the most of it. Perfecting your interviewee skills is an important aspect when trying to impress your employer. It all comes down to how you present yourself, express your views/opinions, your body language, eye contact, posture and that firm but steady handshake. So the preparation process is almost as vital as the actual interview itself. No need to fear, the Careers Service are here to help you face this challenge!
- Ask your relatives or friends about any upcoming opportunities for employment or work experience. They may know someone who is already established in the field you are interested in perusing. Sometimes, it’s closer than you think and let’s face it, contacts are always a bonus! Keep as many contacts in your back pocket as possible, you never know when they might come in handy. There’s a London Graduate Fair coming to Senate House on Wednesday 21st June between 11am-2pm and 3pm-6pm. It’s worth booking yourself in for one of these slots, as you will get to explore different graduate options and talk to potential employers. (Web: londongradfair.co.uk.)
- Now that you have a little more time off, start looking into or begin doing something which interests you e.g. a regular hobby (they’re not just for kids!) This will help clear your mind from negative thoughts and create a sense of routine. It also motivates you, as you are able to discover and develop different aspects of yourself which you never really knew about. Perhaps do something which is relevant to your career prospects, e.g. If you want to get into journalism or creative writing, try starting a blog, self-promoting your work online, writing about or discussing current topics/trends and create a social media platform dedicated to your work. This show potential employers that you thoroughly enjoy and are passionate about the industry, that you are a determined individual who likes to keep busy and actually has talent. Psst…mention these activities in your cover letter or during an interview. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone!
- Make a bullet point list of the steps you need to take. However, it has to be realistic, otherwise there’s no point. For example, if you want to get in to teaching, you need to familiarise yourself with the gradual process; having the right qualifications, organising school experience, helping to assist in a classroom environment and completing a Teacher’s Training Course (PGCE). Picture it like a ladder. There is nothing worse than trying to do everything all at once.
- VOLUNTEERING REALLY IS INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE. Sometimes, the prospect of getting paid gets in the way of us gaining highly valuable, professional and career-related experience. Leaving with a vast amount of skills and knowledge is much more beneficial than having a higher bank balance at the end of it. You can even make friends for life and build a great network of connections. I truly recommend checking out CEN8, as they allow all students to get involved in creative projects (independently or as a team) or to help out at the Arts Club which runs for local children aged between 7-12 (cen8.com or cen8gold.wordpress.com). The beauty of volunteering is that it shows employers how you were willing to dedicate your time, energy and skills to help improve and develop that specific organisation/company. This spells out ambition, something which employers run towards!
- It is your attitude which counts and changes your outlook. Keeping a calm, balanced and healthy mind (exercise, healthy eating, meditation etc.) is what allows you to think more rationally when it comes to making important decisions in the long run. This makes it much easier for you to start doing what you actually want to do. Instead, take a few deep breaths, turn off any distractions and think about what proactive things you could do this very moment. As all of us students are aware, procrastination is a deadly disease.
REMEMBER, KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!