How to Take Your First Step in Your Field After Graduation

So, you’ve graduated at last. Your hard work has paid off, and your sleepless nights in the library and countless hours of studying have been recognised- now what?

Leaving education and facing the daunting task of officially beginning your career is overwhelming. There are a few different options and paths that you can take. It doesn’t matter which route you choose, as long as the end result is success and fulfilment. 

Develop your résumé

You can’t embark on job-seeking without making sure your résumé is up-to-date, professional, and includes all the things you’ve achieved. Just make sure all the information is relevant. Your high score in beer pong may not appeal to potential employers, impressive though it may be.

If writing a résumé is a foreign concept to you, don’t worry- there are plenty of templates and guides online. 

Familiarise yourself with the field

You may know all there is to know about your chosen field of study, but are you knowledgeable about the career world you’re about to jump into? It’s important to know which jobs your degree has rendered you capable of. For example, if you’re a law graduate, being a lawyer isn’t the only job you’re qualified for. 

Researching the line of work you’re about to enter and speaking to people already working in your chosen profession is a great way to learn things you may not have learnt from your studies.

Enhance your knowledge even further

Studying has taught you plenty, but it’s still possible to graduate feeling inadequate or not quite prepared. This is normal, but if it is really preventing you from taking the next step, there are a few options.

One is to seek work experience before graduating. Working while studying really maximises your knowledge and adds something important to your résumé. Lived experience is just as important as formal education, sometimes even more so.

Another option is to apply for a postgraduate course. If you’re not ready to leave the world of education or are seeking a role that requires a master’s degree (or higher), you can develop your knowledge further with an extra qualification. 

Search for a job

If a gap year or extra study isn’t for you, you’re probably ready to look for a job! It’s not necessary to find a job that directly correlates to your degree. Take into consideration what skills you have learned, but also what will make you happy.

Think about where you want to spend your time, because your plan may involve relocation before tying yourself down to a job. Relocation could include another town or even another country. Depending on your situation, this could include things like work visas or uprooting your family, so it needs careful consideration. 

Also, think about what you want from a job. The opportunity to work from home, or remotely while travelling? Would you prefer to be in a bustling, busy environment, or perhaps a quiet, isolated one? Do you want to have set hours and a strict routine or more flexibility and spontaneity? It’s crucial to find what will make you happy. But remember that jobs don’t have to be forever. 

The internet has made job-seeking easier than ever. If you don’t know where to start, your university likely has career advisers you can consult. Job interviews can be daunting, but there’s plenty of information online about how to ace the interview process.

Once you’ve been offered a job, make sure you find out all relevant information, including:

  • Salary and method of pay, plus whether superannuation is included in that number
  • Start date 
  • Hours of work 
  • Sick days and leave, including maternity/paternity leave, if relevant to you
  • Duties you will be expected to perform
  • Potential for salary increase and promotions

If you’re struggling to find ideal work opportunities after graduation, don’t panic. Depending on your chosen field, there may be fewer opportunities. In the meantime, you can find temporary work (universities often employ ex-students to do admin work, be lab assistants, or even teach classes). You can volunteer, do an internship, or consider widening your horizons (looking for jobs a little further from home, for example). You can also brush up on some skills in your own time to bulk up your resume a bit, ask your references from previous teachers who might have connections in the field and work on your 10-year plan.

Try to expand your network and be passionate- but remain realistic. Most importantly, celebrate! Graduating is a huge step. 

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